What is Impact Investing

Impact investments are emerging globally as an alternative asset class. It is an attractive investment option with limited correlation to traditional forms of investment. In the UK, investment is predominantly coming from philanthropic foundations, while in the US, larger investment banks like Goldman Sachs have acted as investors. There are three types of innovative impact funding models currently being used globally:

  1. Social finance and impact investment are investments made into companies, organisations, and funds providing services designed to meet a social need with the intention of generating measurable social and environmental impacts alongside a financial return.
  2. There are payment-for-outcomes and contracting arrangements whereby governments reward providers financially and sometimes private investors for implementing positive, measurable impact on the lives of service users.
  3. A Social Impact Bond (SIB) is an example of a payment for results model. It is a vehicle for private investors to give upfront capital loans to fund service providers to achieve agreed social outcomes. Investors receive a return based on the achievement of agreed social outcomes. Governments save on costs if agreed outcomes are achieved then the saved funds can be used to repay upfront investments and generate financial returns.

Big River Impact Funding

Our Impact Funding model aims to foster economic sustainability and financial independence for Indigenous Australians by creating social impact investment strategies designed to deliver far-reaching economic and social benefits. The Big River Impact Foundation also aims to transition Indigenous Australians out of welfare dependency towards economic participation.

We support home ownership, culturally appropriate governance training, increased employment opportunities, innovative economic development and the monitoring of social impact investments.

Impact investing is focused on a balanced response to contemporary societal challenges:

  • It is impossible for governments to fund the growing needs of social infrastructure and
    service delivery. This austerity means governments are focused on funding the crisis end of the social service system rather than supporting sustainable and preventable solutions.
  • A lack of data analysis in the social services sector creates the lack of evidence-based solutions. Impact investing is committed to monitoring financial, social and/or environmental returns.
  • The financial sector is being held to account due to the erosion of public trust. Impact investing is capable of delivering opportunities for the financial industry to regain its trust and cultural legitimacy.

The market

Impact investing market is estimated to grow:

  • The Monitor Institute in 2008 estimated a potential market growth in the $500 billion range for the next 5–10 years
  • A 2010 Report valued the potential growth of the Social Impact Investment industry between $400 billion USD and $1 trillion by 2020 USD.


Support Australia's most innovative Indigenous projects through a donation to the Big River Impact Foundation. Your donation will support projects that address areas of particular need or opportunity within Indigenous Communities.

Big River Impact Foundation acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the lands we visit through the course of our work and recognise the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders both past, present and future.