People of Impact: Alex Neckles

January 4, 2016

People of Impact: Alex Neckles

People of Impact: Alex Neckles

Alex Neckles is an officer at ImpactAssets, a nonprofit impact investing firm located in Washington, D.C.

It’s no coincidence that Groundhog Day is his favorite movie. Phil, played by Bill Murray, wakes up every day to the same exact day. What he eventually learns is that he has the opportunity to choose how he lives that day. And the results of how he determines to live that day are extremely drastic.

Early in his career, Alex realized a similar truth: living life intentionally makes all of the difference in the world. Alex was working for a law firm doing important work for affordable housing initiatives. “It was great work, but it wasn’t the firm’s purpose. It was just another client, another pool of billable hours.”

It was that lack of intentionality that led Alex to seek out an organization that was intentional in its work. Alex had been interested in Impact Investing, and was dabbling in such investments on a personal basis. When he was offered the opportunity to do it professionally with ImpactAssets, he jumped at the chance & never looked back.

One of Alex’s favorite ImpactAssets investments is the organic salad eatery, Sweetgreen. The restaurant is more than an eatery. Sweetgreen exists to “provide experiences where purpose and passion come together.” The restaurant chain provides healthy eating by locally sourcing its ingredients from organic farmers. That’s awesome, and they could have stopped there. But they didn’t. Nearly by accident, when they opened their second store they had an open mic on the sidewalk. That later developed into a party, then into a street party, then a 500-person festival which has grown into a charity festival, Sweetlife, for 20,000+ like-minded patrons.

This is impact. This is living intentionally. This is making a difference. But working for a great firm or having the opportunity to make such an impact isn’t necessarily available to the general public. But Alex’s hope and vision is that impact opportunities like Sweetgreen can be accessible to everyone.

Alex’s vision aligns with ImpactAssets: to make impact investing available to the main street investor, not just a novelty for the “country club crowd.” ImpactAssets has done that by offering the Giving Fund, a donor-advised fund with a low minimum investment of $5,000. Recently launched is the Impact Investment Notes, which targets individual impact causes, such as global sustainable agriculture and microfinance for developing nations, for a minimum investment of $25,000.

When looking back at the path of his professional career, does Alex have any regrets? “No, but if I could do it over again, I would have taken a deeper dive earlier into impact investing.” In other words, like Phil of Groundhog Day, it might have taken Alex—or any of us—a couple of the same exact days to realize that we could be making more of an impact if we choose to live our “day” differently.  But when we make that choice may not matter as much as that we make it.

Kudos to Alex for making it out of Punxsutawney.