Impact Investing: Aligning Reinforcement Contingencies to Save the Planet

Image by PIRO4D from Pixabay

Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D

bSci21Media, LLC

If there is one thing that affects behavior more than anything else in the world, it is money.  And money-related topics are becoming increasingly frequent here at bSci21, such as foreign exchange markets, behavioral science in global economic sectors, macrocontingencies in financial markets, reducing student debt with Income Share Agreements, and trading financial instruments.

Most of our behavior on a daily basis is allocated to making money (i.e., at work), preparing to make money (i.e., at school), or to consuming what money gets us (i.e., a home, clothes, food, entertainment, etc…).

Money allows us to purchase our environments.  It affects where we live, our socio-economic status, the types of people with whom we interact, and more.  Money also allows organizations of all kinds to exist, and participates in an interconnected global economy that touches nearly everyone on the planet.

And money can be reinforcing.

We can leverage the power of money to create the world we want, in line with our chosen life values, and the emergence of Impact Investing helps make this a reality.  According to CNBC, “millennials seem to be drawn to funds that support the humanitarian or environmental missions they believe in. And the easiest way to do that may be with the click of a button on a device they use daily — their smartphone.”

Much of Impact Investing is organized around the 17 Strategic Development Goals outlined by the U.N in the video below.

Briefly, the goals are:

  1. No poverty
  2. Zero hunger
  3. Good Health and Well-Being
  4. Quality Education
  5. Gender Equality
  6. Clean Water and Sanitation
  7. Affordable and Clean Energy
  8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure.
  10. Reduced Inequalities
  11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  12. Responsible Production and Consumption
  13. Climate Action
  14. Life Below Water
  15. Life On Land
  16. Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
  17. Partnerships for the Goals

One company, Swell, launched just a few years ago and offers a variety of investment portfolios related to renewable energy, green tech, disease eradication, healthy living, zero waste, clean water, and more.  According to Dave Fanger, founder of Swell, “It’s helping fuel a sense of purpose…and makes people more proactive.”  And there are others as well, according to CNBC.

The movement as a whole has surpassed $500 Billion in assets to date.  According to a recent report by the Global Impact Investing Network, 41% of impact investing occurs through the issuing of private debt, 18% in private equity, and 14% in public equities.  Moreover, 82% reported that their investments have met their expectations for impact and for financial returns.

The Impact Investing market is growing.  But the challenge is to grow in a way that furthers impacts society as a whole, not just our wallets.

What do you think about Impact Investing?  Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to subscribe to bSci21 to receive the latest articles directly to your inbox!

Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is a science writer, social philosopher, behavioral systems analyst, and the President and Founder of bSci21Media, LLC, which aims to connect behavioral science to the world in an engaging, non-academic way.  Dr. Ward received his PhD in behavior analysis from the University of Nevada, Reno under Dr. Ramona Houmanfar.  He has served as a Guest Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, and as an Editorial Board member of Behavior and Social Issues.  His publications follow a theme of behavioral systems analysis, organizational performance, theory & philosophy, and language & cognition.  He has also provided ABA services to children and adults with various developmental disabilities in day centers, in-home, residential, and school settings, and previously served as Faculty Director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas.  Dr. Ward can be reached at todd.ward@bsci21.org

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