After 20 years in business, Cogent Consulting converted to a Specific Benefit Corporation in 2018.
We are an independent, strategic, financial, and impact investing firm empowering
purpose-driven organizations. Impact investing is defined as “Investments made with the
intention to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial
return” (Global Impact Investing Network).
We work with a diverse set of mission-driven investors and entrepreneurs through
evidence-based and actionable advice. Our work serves foundations, corporations, social
entrepreneurs, and impact-investing place-based ecosystems. Our clients include many
nonprofits: LISC Twin Cities & Duluth, Partnership in Property Commercial Land Trust, First
Children’s Finance, Greater Green Bay Community Foundation, Betterway Foundation, Ashoka,
Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, and the Barra Foundation, to name a few. Please
see our website for more information: https://www.cogentconsulting.net/.
Pursuant to Section 304A.101 of the Minnesota Statutes, Cogent Consulting SBC pursues the
following benefit purpose as listed in its articles:
To empower purpose-driven organizations that drive positive social impact in their
Cogent Consulting, SBC accomplishes its specific benefit purpose with all of our clients and pro
bono work. Our work from the past year includes the following:
Despite many successes this year, Cogent encountered several challenges in most effectively
pursuing our specific benefit purpose.
a. The Coronavirus pandemic and consequent restrictive measures limited Cogent’s ability
to grow our network and disseminate information about the resources it offers.
(Conversely, however, the business world’s embrace of virtual communication has
enabled Cogent to acquire clients it otherwise wouldn’t have due to geographic distance).
b. Impact investing remains an evolving field. Individual investors are typically wary of
modifying their investment frameworks and thus tend to lack both the knowledge and
motivation to incorporate ESG values into their investment strategies. This is exacerbated by misinformation and political backlash targeting impact investing. Within endowment investing, there remains a continued focus on fiduciary duty without consideration for mission alignment. Non-profit organizations that do have social justice objectives often lack information about how they may pursue equity via investing in lieu of philanthropy. The future success of impact investing hinges on investors and organizations being willing to adapt and learn new practices.
c. There is a general lack of transparency and information is poorly shared among organizations involved in impact investing. Even organizations that have incorporated ESG values into their investment portfolios seldom publicly share information about investment standards, strategies, or impact.
Top of my mind these days is investing in line with Diversity, Equity, Inclusion values. Many institutions promised bold moves after George Floyd was murdered. Who is following through and doing this well? Racial justice requires new pathways for capital flows. I’m excited to be part of the McKnight Foundation’s Groundbreak Coalition, aiming to deploy $2b in flexible capital over 10 years to disrupt the status quo. In Minnesota we are a generous state, a charitable state, a hard-working state: we need to try new approaches to create that famous quality of life for all. We are leading a session on Place Based Impact Investing at the Mission Investors Exchange conference in Baltimore. Reach out if you’ll be there so I can include you in the informal MN meet-ups.
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