As we understand the impact we are having - or could have - on people and planet, our intentions and constraints guide us to set goals.

What are intentions?

Our intentions express a commitment to act in a certain way. They are derived from our values and motivations and inform our impact and financial goals.

  • Values: One’s judgement of what is important; principles or standards of behavior.
  • Motivation for impact: A motivating force, stimulus or influence
  • Impact intention: A determination to act in a certain way
  • Impact goals: The end towards which effort is directed

Intentions can range from broad commitments – “I want to avoid harm” or “I want to mitigate risk” or “I want to have a positive effect on the world” – to more detailed objectives – “I want to support a specific group of people, place, outcome” or “I want to address a specific social or environmental challenge”.

There are a range of intentions for managing impact, which can be loosely grouped into four broad types. Each type relates to different performance across the five dimensions.

Don’t miss the investor-specific section of Goals to see how different types of intention translate into the goals of investments.


Intentions (1) v2@1.5x Created with Sketch. Avoid harm Help tackle specific pressing challenges Avoid harm “I want to help tackle climate change” “I want to help tackle the education gap” Have a positive effect on people and the world “I want to support enterprises that have a positive effect on the world to sustain long-term financial performance” “I want a world where all enterprises try to have a positive effect on society” “I have regulatory requirements to meet (e.g. I have to cut my carbon emissions)” “I want to behave responsibly” "I want to mitigate risk" INTENTIONS Don’t care “I choose to exploit negative impact for financial gain” “I am aware of potential negative impact but choose to be agnostic”

Read how intentions link to goals here.

Since intentions guide our goals – and managing impact so often means re-setting our goals based on what we learn – sharing our intentions with those we work with fosters trust that we will make the same decisions when it comes to re-setting goals based on what we learn. The decision about whether to share our intentions is ultimately an individual choice for us to make as a customer, enterprise, intermediary or asset owner. Regardless of whether we share our intentions, we do need to share and align our goals.

How do my constraints affect my goals?

Regardless of our intentions, our choices are often limited by certain constraints, including legal requirements, the type of organisation we are, our level of wealth or profitability, our location and our demographics. For more on constraints, see here.

What does this mean for investors?

Investors’ intentions and constraints don’t just affect their choice of underlying businesses to invest in, they also guide how investors themselves can contribute to a business’s ability to be impactful. The diagram below shows how intentions and constraints translate into different strategies that investors use to contribute to impact. For a re-cap of these different strategies, return to the section on (contribution).


Give me some examples

See how the risk dimension has been helpful to Acumen and NPC to understand the risks they are willing to take, which risk factors matter most to them and how they manage to risk. If you are an investor or funder you may be interested to see how risk can be managed at a portfolio level

Read more from our partners on our blog