Six Essential Dimensions for Impact Investing

Kai Hockerts, Lisa Hehenberger, Stefan Schaltegger

Research output: Working paperResearch


Impact investing aims to generate social and environmental impact alongside financial returns. However, the exact definition and the concept itself are not always clear, which affects the use and potential of impact investing. In this article, the authors provide a way to understand the concept of impact investing and introduce critical questions to facilitate discussions regarding whether a case can be described as impact investing. The article presents an approach to understanding impact investing via six dimensions, examining its implementation, and raising key questions. The six dimensions are intentionality, additionality, contribution, materiality, measurability, and attribution. Practitioners can use these dimensions to describe different sub-clusters of how the term ‘impact investing’ is used in research and practice.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherThe European Research Network on Philanthropy
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023
SeriesThe ERNOP Research Notes for Philanthropy Practitioners
Number2023 / III


  • Impact investing
  • Business ethics
  • Impact
  • Foundations

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