Impact investments are investments made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. Impact investments can be made in both emerging and developed markets, and target a range of returns from below market to market rate, depending upon the circumstances. Impact investors actively seek to place capital in businesses and funds that can harness the positive power of enterprise. Learn more about impact investing here.
IRIS is the catalog of generally accepted performance metrics that leading impact investors use to measure social, environmental, and financial success, evaluate deals, and grow the sector’s credibility.
The IRIS catalog pulls together the most useful metrics from across the impact investing industry and puts them in one place which makes it easier to create an informed performance measurement system and reduce mistakes that could affect your credibility. Using IRIS metrics also makes it easier to compare your performance with others and communicate your results to the entire industry. If you are interested in tracking your performance results, the IRIS catalog is your resource for selecting social, environmental, and financial metrics.
There is no single combination of IRIS metrics that will be right for all organizations As such, using IRIS does not require that all or even certain metrics are tracked. Instead, IRIS users select a set of IRIS metrics specifically relevant to their own activities, impact objectives, and stakeholder requirements, among other potential criteria.
IRIS is being used by leading impact organizations from across the globe. To see some examples of how these organizations are using IRIS, view their profiles on the IRIS registry, a directory of IRIS users that highlights the specific metrics they track and that can be searched by sector, geography, or impact focus.
To get started with IRIS, you can read our “Getting Started with IRIS” guide as well as several use cases with details about how different organizations have integrated IRIS metrics into their impact measurement practices.
IRIS does not pass judgment. Using IRIS does not result in a certification or performance rating. Instead, IRIS metrics can be incorporated into different performance systems, such as assessment tools, proprietary scorecards, and methodologies like social return on investment. By incorporating IRIS metrics into these systems, investors can use different approaches and still compare performance and maximize shared learning.
IRIS metrics are aligned with widely-accepted standards promoted by many sector leaders and industry bodies, including the Global Reporting Initiative, the International Labor Organization, and the International Financial Reporting Standards among others. In addition to identifying and organizing the most useful and well-established metrics from across different sectors, IRIS also collaborates with many different standards-setting bodies to help create more unity and coordination across these different efforts.
The IRIS initiative is managed by the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN). The IRIS metrics catalog is maintained and updated with support from an Advisory Body comprising experts in impact measurement and other related areas. Metrics are considered for inclusion in IRIS through a rigorous process that involves input and consultation from a broad and diverse group of stakeholders.
An Advisory Body comprising leaders in the impact investing industry oversees the evolution of IRIS. The metrics are updated every two years through an iterative review process that involves objective consideration of recommendations and comments provided by various stakeholders. This enables the IRIS catalog to evolve in line with industry best practices, at the guidance of expert advisors, and as partner taxonomies are updated.
Because new iterations of IRIS always build on preceding versions, users can adopt IRIS immediately without concern. Most frequently, new metrics are added in subsequent versions. Any changes to existing metrics are adapted into IRIS only after extensive consultations with experts and users.
The ultimate success of IRIS depends on feedback and suggestions from a great number of individuals. The IRIS website has been designed to allow visitors to provide comments about any of the existing metrics and also suggest new ones. Comments provided through the website (via the "Feedback" form available on each metric page) will be reviewed and, where appropriate, posted to the website to allow additional discussion. These comments will also be considered in planning for future IRIS versions. Visitors can additionally send feedback directly to the IRIS initiative at any time by e-mailing email@example.com.
When citing IRIS metrics in public materials such as, but not limited to impact performance reports, online dashboards, and other public analyses, clearly reference the IRIS metrics using the following style guidelines.
Reference String: IRIS, Year. (Metric ID) Metric Name. IRIS Version.
Reference Example: IRIS, 2011. (PI5920) Sales from Exports. v.2.2.
Include these references as footnotes, in a bibliography, appendix or reference index, or via other appropriate citations.