Research & Publications
The US SIF Foundation conducts research on a range of sustainable and impact investment issues. A number of these reports are available as free PDF downloads. Other US SIF publications can be ordered here.
Biennial Trends Report
The Report on US Sustainable Investing Trends series is the most comprehensive study of sustainable investing in the United States. The report, first published in 1995, provides detailed data on the US asset management firms and institutional asset owners using sustainable investment strategies and examines the environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues they consider in managing their portfolios. The most recent edition was published in December 2022. Click here to learn more.
Other Recent Reports
Adding Sustainable Funds to Defined Contribution Plans: A Resource Guide for Plan Sponsors (2021)
Building upon increased interest in sustainable investment and recent updates on relevant ERISA guidance, this step-by-step guide assists plan sponsors considering the addition of sustainable funds to defined contribution (DC) retirement plans. The five steps include increasing knowledge of sustainable investing, gauging participants’ interest, discussing implementation, choosing funds and educating participants. Along with practical tips and suggestions, the guide provides links to additional resources plan sponsors can leverage. To access a free copy of the report here.
Global Sustainable Investment Review 2020 (2021)
Global sustainable investment assets reached $35.3 trillion at the start of 2020, a 15 percent increase from 2018, according to the Global Sustainable Investment Review 2020. The report is the fifth edition of this biennial report mapping the size, growth and dynamics of the global sustainable investment industry. This edition collates results from US SIF, Japan Sustainable Investment Forum, RIA Canada, and the Responsible Investment Association Australasia and in the case of Europe, from secondary industry data. The report also includes additional market insights from the United Kingdom, China as well as other parts of Asia, and across Latin America and Africa, to form a global picture of the sustainable investment industry. To access a free copy of the report, click here.
Getting Started in Sustainable Investing: A Guide for Individual Investors (2021)
This guide is a concise resource to help retail, non-accredited investors start investing for impact. It covers investment options, including mutual funds and ETFs, direct ownership of stocks and community-oriented cash and fixed income products. It also provides information on how to get professional help from financial advisors or through robo-advisors that offer sustainable investment options. The guide concludes with helpful resources to review. To access a free copy of the report, click here.
Toward a Just and Sustainable Economy: Policy Recommendations for the Next Administration (2020)
US SIF released a set of policy recommendations for the next administration. The recommendations aim to help achieve a more just and sustainable economy and provide a framework through which the private sector can contribute alongside government leadership. To access the report, click here.
Investing to Achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals: A Report for the US Investor Community (2020)
When the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were launched by the United Nations in 2015, investors were called upon to be key stakeholders in achieving the vision laid out in the 17 Goals to create a more sustainable and just world. This report examines whether the SDGs have led to a change in investment strategies, new investment products or new investment flows. The report also interviews sustainable investors to understand what motivations exist to achieve the SDGs, how they apply the Goals to their investment processes and what pitfalls might exist around “greenwashing” the SDGs. The report also includes examples of SDG-themed bonds, equity products and shareholder engagement strategies. To access a free copy of the report, click here.
The Rise of ESG in Passive Investments (2020)
While the vast majority of sustainably invested assets are still in actively managed ESG funds, net flows into passively managed ESG funds have in recent years outpaced net flows into their actively managed counterparts. This report explores the growth of passive ESG investing and the debate on the effectiveness of passive ESG funds versus active ESG funds. It recommends best practices for passive fund asset managers to deepen ESG approaches and impact, including through proxy voting, company engagement, disclosure about their ESG incorporation techniques, impact measurement and field building. The report also includes profiles of ESG ETFs and index-based mutual funds that demonstrate a range of approaches to passively managed ESG investing. To access a free copy of the report, click here.
Investing to Advance Women: A Guide for Investors (2020)
This guide explores the business case for investors seeking to put their dollars to work to address the pressing issues that affect women. It presents summary information on the socioeconomic status of women in the United States and globally, the challenges they face in achieving parity with men in the business and economic realm and the investment products that investors can use to address these issues. Options across a range of asset classes and vehicles, including stocks, mutual funds, fixed income and cash instruments, as well as shareholder engagement approaches, are discussed. To access a free copy of the report, click here.
Incorporating Sustainable Investing Into Your Practice: A Roadmap for Financial Advisors (2021)
This updated roadmap details the steps financial advisors can take not only to get started in offering sustainable investment services to clients, but also to deepen their practice. The report provides essential background information and guides advisors in how to identify and add relevant products, introduce sustainable investing to clients, update clients' Investment Policy Statements, handle asset allocation, communicate expertise, and monitor impact performance. To access a free copy of the report, click here.
Moving Forward with Sustainable Investing: A Roadmap for Asset Owners (2019)
This comprehensive guide can help institutional asset owners get started in sustainable investing or enhance their current level of sustainable investing practice. It is relevant for retirement plans, corporations, educational institutions, philanthropic foundations, family offices, nonprofit organizations and other asset owners. It explains the basics of sustainable investing and includes a series of steps asset owners can take to move forward. These steps cover the oversight process, Investment Policy Statements, asset allocation options, proxy voting, investor engagement, managing impact and participating in building the field, among others. Included as well are case studies of three institutions—a public retirement system, a philanthropic foundation and a family office—with rigorous sustainable investment approaches. To access a free copy of the report, click here.
Moving Forward with Sustainable, Responsible and Impact Investing: A Roadmap for Money Managers (2018)
This roadmap is a comprehensive guide for money managers on how to incorporate sustainable, responsible and impact investing at their firms. It provides best practices and practical steps asset managers can take to develop and enhance sustainable investing strategies. The roadmap explains how to establish board and senior level oversight to meaningfully explore the process of addressing ESG issues in investment offerings. Other topics covered are identifying sources of ESG data, research and training; developing and implementing an ESG incorporation strategy and investor engagement strategy; measuring and managing impact; and participating in building the sustainable investment field. To access a free copy of the report click here.
Confronting Corporate Money in Politics (2014)
Confronting Corporate Money in Politics seeks to assist investors concerned about the growing and largely undisclosed flows of corporate money to influence elections and politics in the United States. The guide highlights practical strategies that investors can use to encourage corporations whose shares they own to disclose or curb their political expenditures. It also offers strategies for investors in mutual funds and bank accounts. In the realm of public policy, the guide suggests initiatives for investors to support. Download Free PDF
Unleashing the Potential of US Foundation Endowments: Using Responsible Investment to Strengthen Endowment Oversight and Enhance Impact (2014)
A growing number of foundations are investigating or pursuing sustainable, responsible, and impact investing approaches—often employing such terms as mission-related investing or impact investing. They are seeking to employ investment and shareowner strategies across their assets to help achieve positive societal outcomes and targeted financial returns. This report is designed for foundation staff and trustees who are interested in encouraging their institutions to align a broader portion of their assets under management with their programmatic goals or to factor environmental, social and governance issues into their investment decisions to help fulfill fiduciary duties. Download Free PDF
Investing to Curb Climate Change: Institutional (2013)
This guide is designed for investors such as foundations, family offices, university endowments, pension funds, insurance companies, banks and registered investment companies. Individuals who are accredited investors will also find this a helpful source of information. This guide highlights strategies available for institutional investors to manage climate change risks in their investment portfolios and help generate solutions. The guide highlights strategies that investors can utilize across all asset classes, including private equity. The guide also outlines several public policy initiatives that will facilitate investments in clean energy and energy efficiency as well strategies for influencing organizations and institutions in their communities to adopt more climate-sensitive investment policies. Download Free PDF.
Investing to Curb Climate Change: Individuals (2013)
This guide seeks to meet the increasing interest of a wide range of investors in using their investment dollars to address the risks of climate change and to help generate solutions. The guide highlights strategies that retail investors can use not only to address climate change within their own holdings of stocks, mutual funds, fixed income and cash instruments, but also to encourage institutions in their communities to adopt more climate-sensitive investment policies. The guide also suggests several public policy initiatives investors can support to facilitate investments in clean energy and energy efficiency. Download Free PDF
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Expanding the Market for Community Investment in the United States (2013)
A report that draws on best practices from the field, recommending ways to attract new accredited and institutional investments, as well as to develop products that are accessible enough to retail investors. US SIF Foundation led the project in collaboration with the Initiative for Responsible Investment at Harvard University and Milken Institute. Download Free PDF
Lessons Learned: The Emerging Markets Disclosure Project 2008-2012 (2012)
The Emerging Market Disclosure Project (EMDP), a five-year international initiative led by representatives from Boston Common Asset Management, Calvert Investments, US SIF and with advisory support from the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI) worked to assess and improve corporate environmental, social and governance (ESG or sustainability) reporting in emerging markets. Readers will find a culmination of the group's baseline studies and advocacy work in Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa and South Korea. Download Free PDF
Options & Innovations in Community Investing (2012)
Based on current practice among fund managers, wealth advisors and consultants, this guide offers investors a practical guide to community investing. Readers will find resource links and options by asset class as well as an analysis of key issues that may influence the future of community development finance. Download Free PDF
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Sustainability Trends in US Alternative Investments (2011)
In recent years, the market of alternative investment funds engaged in sustainable, responsible, and impact investing has expanded rapidly. This report provides a detailed snapshot of private equity and venture capital funds, property investment funds and hedge funds based in the United States that consider environmental, social and corporate governance criteria in fund management. It documents the growth in their numbers and assets from 2010 to 2011, and examines the networks and field-building organizations that have helped to facilitate growth in this field. Download Free Executive Summary | Order Full Report
Creating a Sustainable World: A Guide to Responsible Stewardship of Tribal Assets (2010)
A resource guide on how American Indian financial portfolios can integrate sustainable, responsible, and impact investment strategies into the management of tribal and other Native organizational assets. Download Free PDF
Investment Consultants and Responsible Investing: Current Practices and Outlook in the United States (2009)
This report analyzes the results from a survey of US investment consultants about their clients' interest in investment strategies that consider corporate environmental, social or governance criteria in addition to traditional financial analysis, and how they are responding. Download Free PDF
Global Research and Resources
For a listing of sustainable investment resources around the world, please view our Global Sustainable Investment Alliance page.The Report on US Sustainable Investing Trends series is the most comprehensive study of sustainable investing in the United States. The report, first published in 1995, provides detailed data on the US asset management firms and institutional asset owners using sustainable investment strategies and examines the environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues they consider in managing their portfolios. The most recent edition was published in December 2022. Click here to learn more.