Civic News
Funding / Investing / Nonprofits

Is your money supporting your values? This Philly nonprofit helps investments work for good

ImpactPHL is on a mission to help people wield capital for positive change — and we have a discount code for the Total Impact Summit on May 1-2.

An ImpactPHL social in 2021 at Cherry Street Pier (Courtesy ImpactPHL)
Do you know where your 401K is being invested?

Most people don’t, but where your investments go matters — a lot. That’s become a mantra for Cory Donovan. He’s the executive director of ImpactPHL, a nonprofit dedicated to helping people and organizations use capital to create positive change.

“No matter how hard we work, until we get our capital aligned, we’re not going to fix the problems,” Donovan told

It’s standard to think about donating money and volunteering to make a positive impact, but those good deeds can be effectively canceled out if your money doesn’t support the same causes, Donovan said.

Donating is still important, he clarified, but it isn’t the only thing people should be considering. For example, you can give time and money to causes that fight the gender wage gap and say you support equal pay for women. But if you’re investing in companies that don’t pay women as much as they pay men, then you’re inadvertently helping perpetuate the problem.

Launched in 2016, ImpactPHL’s mission is to align the region’s capital with causes important in Philadelphia to create an “inclusive, resilient and sustainable regional economy,” per Donovan, who has been with the org since the beginning.

The nonprofit mostly works with foundations, high wealth individuals and family offices to figure out what issues they care about, show them the impact of their current investments and point them in the direction of potential investments that match their values.

The org wants to start conversations about impact investing, including at its annual Total Impact Summit. This year’s event, titled “Modeling the Future Economy,” takes place May 1-2 and features more than 85 speakers from impact investing, foundation, social finance and venture capital communities around the US.

As a media partner for the event, we have a discount code to offer: use TECHNICALLY for $500 off the two-day access pass.

Register for the Total Impact Summit

Tools to find out who your investments support

If you want to make sure your money is going toward positive change, the process starts with values-aligned investing, making sure your investments and financial assets are aligned with your values, Donovan said. Impact investing is a more advanced version of that where you’re also measuring, reporting and being transparent about your investments.

ImpactPHL has a tool called OptImpact that connects accredited investors — aka people or orgs who meet SEC requirements for net worth or annual income — to local companies and organizations creating a positive impact. For example, Philadelphia-based social enterprise beermaker Triple Bottom Brewing or personal safety-device maker ROAR.

“I think that’s a little bit of a blind spot for a lot of people,” Donovan said. “We don’t really realize how and where our money is invested. And part of that is because we tend to outsource our financial decision making to other people.”

California-based non-profit As You Sow has a tool called Invest Your Values that grades 401K and private investment plans so you can see how well your investments support or perpetuate issues such as climate, health, gender, racial justice, etc.

For the 85% of the population that aren’t accredited investors, there aren’t a lot of options for making impactful local investments aside from crowdsource investing and asking your employer to expand the options for your 401K plan.

At the Total Impact Summit on May 1-2, the goal is to make it easy for investors to hear from experts in the space, and convince people it’s worth adjusting their strategy to align with impact investing.

“Every year,” Donovan said, “there are a few people that come out of this and go, ‘I get it now — and I want to do this.’”

Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2024 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.

Before you go...

Please consider supporting to keep our independent journalism strong. Unlike most business-focused media outlets, we don’t have a paywall. Instead, we count on your personal and organizational support.

3 ways to support our work:
  • Contribute to the Journalism Fund. Charitable giving ensures our information remains free and accessible for residents to discover workforce programs and entrepreneurship pathways. This includes philanthropic grants and individual tax-deductible donations from readers like you.
  • Use our Preferred Partners. Our directory of vetted providers offers high-quality recommendations for services our readers need, and each referral supports our journalism.
  • Use our services. If you need entrepreneurs and tech leaders to buy your services, are seeking technologists to hire or want more professionals to know about your ecosystem, has the biggest and most engaged audience in the mid-Atlantic. We help companies tell their stories and answer big questions to meet and serve our community.
The journalism fund Preferred partners Our services

Join our growing Slack community

Join 5,000 tech professionals and entrepreneurs in our community Slack today!


Gopuff lays off 6% of workforce, as it prepares for 'next leg of growth'

Philly coworking guide: 21 places to get work done

5 local orgs with services and resources for startups and entrepreneurs

AI can now design greener cities, but architects still have the final say

Technically Media