How do financial institutions enable social impact? We examined this question in the context of values-based financial institutions, which are amongst the most experienced institutions around the world in addressing the very real banking needs of enterprises and individuals within their communities. There is, indeed, an urgency today to have the banking industry consider its social impact in a holistic way. This paper expands our understanding of how these financial institutions, all members of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, define, design, implement, monitor and scale-up social impact. We used a multiple-case studies design to investigate their approach and inductive analysis to derive a model. From a theoretical perspective, we found that a social impact virtuous circular model best reflects how values-based financial institutions approach and practise social impact. Each step of the circular model clearly shows the way in which these institutions address and achieve social impact. Our findings have important implications for academic research focussed on understanding how finance can generate social impact. The findings of this article can, especially, also have practical implications for all types of financial institutions willing to improve the way in which they address social challenges and, ultimately, increase their social impact. At a time when more resources are needed to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, this is urgent.
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