Acumen Fund’s Pulse

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= a proprietary tool that the organization uses to track its 'social impact' investments



"Pulse is the tool that Acumen Fund uses to gather and manage the financial, operational, and social data of our portfolio companies across different geographies and industries. Metrics data are collected monthly or quarterly to help us assess the real-time health and impact of our portfolio companies.

This web-based tool, built in a secure and confidential data management environment, allows portfolio managers to apply industry standard metrics, or to create a set of custom metrics unique to their investment. While pulse was built by impact investors for impact investors, its flexible design makes it an ideal solution for any organization seeking to track social impact, including foundations, impact investors, associations or operating nonprofits. Pulse adheres to the Global Impact Investing Network's (GIIN) Impact Reporting and Investment Standards (IRIS) taxonomy, which was developed with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, B Corporation, Acumen Fund, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte.

Pulse was conceived in 2006, when Acumen Fund couldn't identify a suitable industry standard portfolio management system for impact investors, while recognizing the need to create greater accountability in the world of impact investing.To better quantify the impact of our investments, we needed to create a standardized set of data and benchmarks, and the appropriate tools for gathering the necessary information. Together with other leading impact investors, Acumen helped create IRIS as the taxonomy for the sector, and developed Pulse as the technology tool to track and measure impact investment data.

The original version of Pulse was built jointly by Acumen and Google, whose volunteer engineers provided the technological expertise in creating the system. With the generous support of Skoll Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation and Lodestar Foundation, among others, we re-built this internal system into the broadly-released version of Pulse that is available today on the platform. Today, technology company App-X is the exclusive application partner responsible for the long-term management of the Pulse software.

Originally called the Portfolio Data Management System (PDMS), we re-named the project ‘Pulse’ in late 2008 to better reflect the goals of the tool. As Chief Investment Officer Brian Trelstad is fond of saying, traditional Monitoring and Evaluation efforts are a lot like autopsies—invasive, often inconclusive, and generally too late to facilitate meaningful improvements to programming. Instead, we aim to take the pulse of our investments. We seek to collect real-time, easy to track, actionable metrics that allow us to quickly identify what’s working and what needs attention across our portfolio. When we couldn’t find a readily-available system that met our needs, we built the Pulse platform and made it available to our colleagues, an effort to meet the demand for similar metrics across the sector.

By leveraging the cloud computing platform, Pulse users have access anywhere, any time, via the Internet. This allows Pulse to leverage the services and functionality of a comprehensive, proven, continually improving CRM foundation." (