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Do Good or Make Money? Why It's Not Even a Question.

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The misconception that companies that do good can't make money and companies that make money can't do good has never felt more wrong. 

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History is filled with examples of very profitable companies doing very good things in the world. Over the last few years, interest in for-profit, social-driven companies has given rise to impact investing, a category of investments made with the intention of getting both a measurable social and financial return.

Related: Warby Parker Co-Founder On the Next Generation of Social Entrepreneurship

Take, for example, the organic baby food company Happy Family, which donates a portion of sales to feed children in need. Since its launch in 2006, it’s provided more than 5 million meals to undernourished children. At the same time, it’s also managed to make a lot of money -- particularly for its investors.

“Those people who gave me $550,000 in the beginning -- maybe they thought they were doing me a favor,” said Shazi Visram, the founder of Happy Family, at a recent impact investing conference held by the Case Foundation in New York City. “But by the end, people were writing me million-dollar checks. And I will tell you the people who put in $550,000 at the very beginning got almost a 30 times return on their money,”.

Related: Market to Empowered Women: It's Ethical -- And It's Good for Business

For more on the growth of impact investing, have a look at the video, embedded below, of highlights from the Case Foundation summit. (Full disclosure: I moderated one of the three panels at the event, which was called Impact Investing as a Tool for Change.)

Related: Kickstarter Co-Founder's Next Chapter: A Nonprofit Discovery Platform

Catherine Clifford

Written By

Catherine Clifford is senior entrepreneurship writer at CNBC. She was formerly a senior writer at Entrepreneur.com, the small business reporter at CNNMoney and an assistant in the New York bureau for CNN. Clifford attended Columbia University where she earned a bachelor's degree. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can follow her on Twitter at @CatClifford.