Acumen Fund: Measurement in Venture Philanthropy (B)

Posted: 14 Oct 2009

See all articles by Alnoor S. Ebrahim

Alnoor S. Ebrahim

Tufts University

V. Kasturi Rangan

Harvard Business School - Marketing Unit

Date Written: September 16, 2009


As Acumen Fund, a global venture philanthropy firm, moves forward with an investment portfolio exceeding $22 million, it runs into two critical measurement problems. First, how should it track the performance of each investment when its interest is not just the bottom line, but also social impact? What should its performance tracking system look like to enable ease of comparison, and to identify problems before they become too significant to fix? The second challenge involves attracting investors. Acumen wants to build the field of "social investing" by creating a new asset class for investors who care about social impact. Doing so will require working with competitors in the field in order to establish benchmarks and standards of measurement. How can Acumen build industry-wide benchmarks when peer organizations are concerned about confidentiality of data? Without such comparisons, how will Acumen attract investors to the field?

Suggested Citation

Ebrahim, Alnoor S. and Rangan, V. Kasturi, Acumen Fund: Measurement in Venture Philanthropy (B) (September 16, 2009). HBS Case No. 310-017, Harvard Business School General Management Unit, Harvard Business School Marketing Unit, Available at SSRN:

Alnoor S. Ebrahim (Contact Author)

Tufts University ( email )

160 Packard Avenue
Medford, MA 02155
United States

V. Kasturi Rangan

Harvard Business School - Marketing Unit ( email )

Soldiers Field
Boston, MA 02163
United States

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