Bertelsmann Stiftung, University of Stuttgart (ed.)

Stephan Eckert, B.Sc.; M.Sc.  /  Univ.-Prof. Dr. Henry Schäfer

Risk, Return... and Impact?

Current attitudes of selected German investors towards Social Impact Investing

Format Type
Date of publication
1. edition
32 pages, PDF
Delivery status


Free of charge


"How much of your portfolio is invested in Social Impact Investing vehicles?" "Which topic areas appear to hold the greatest potential for Social Impact Investing?" "Where should Social Impact Investments ideally unfold their impacts?" These and other questions were answered by over 50 foundations, high net worth individuals (HNWI) and family offices between May and November 2014.

The results of this survey are encouraging for the further development of Social Impact Investing (SII) in Germany: all three surveyed groups are, in principle, willing to forgo financial returns in favour of positive social or environmental impact. However, real capital preservation is a minimum requirement for all surveyed groups investing in SII. In addition to lowered return expectations, the surveyed groups displayed a lower time preference for SII. This means, that the surveyed investors are also willing to forgo liquidity for an average of 5,4 additional years in favour of positive social or environmental impact.

A further useful insight gained from the survey is that social or environmental impact should ideally be created in close geographical proximity or in developing countries. The attitudes of the surveyed investor groups are particularly valuable, as they have the potential to take on an important role as catalysts for other investor groups in establishing SII in Germany.

This survey follows the recommendations of the final report of the German National Advisory Board (NAB), published in September 2014, in generating more information about the attitudes of German investors towards social impact investing, hitherto considered a black box. This report can therefore be seen as a contribution to the NAB’s market-building efforts in line with its recommendations.

This English version of the inquiry has been abridged to display the key findings to an international audience. The full version is available in German and can be downloaded here.

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