There are three key areas of data reporting at Big Society Capital:

  • Our investment numbers help us to keep track, and report on, our progress as a social investor and market builder.

  • Deal-level data is a broader list, from our portfolio and our partners, of social investments into charities and social enterprises.

  • Market sizing is an annual estimate of the size of the UK social investment market.

The following looks at each of the three areas in more detail. 

Our investment numbers

Why? We measure four Investment numbers to keep track of how are doing deploying our own capital, and also how we are doing at attracting other sources of capital into social investment. Co-investment is a key measure for us as we aim to create systemic change by bringing others alongside us, to grow the market not be the market. The four Investment numbers are as follows:

  1. Signed: this is the £ amount we have committed to invest into an intermediary or fund.
  2. Drawdown: this is the £ amount that has been invested by us into an intermediary or fund. Drawdown is a subset of signed.
  3. Signed-with-match: this is the £ amount we have committed to invest, along with signed commitments by co-investors.
  4. Draw down-with-match: this is the £ amount that has been drawn down by us, along with amounts drawn down by our co-investors. Draw down-with-match is a subset of signed-with-match.

Who? Our four investment numbers focus on the investments we make, and the amount of co-investment alongside our own investment.

Approach? We report on our investment numbers twice a year. The approach for our investment numbers is very simple because they are a reflection of the deals we have made so no external data collection approach is required.

Confidence? This is our own data, reflecting legal agreements we have put in place, so we can have 100% confidence in these data points.

Deal-level data

Why? The purpose of the deal-level data is to show broader social investment activity reaching charities and social enterprises; the investors who are making those investments; and what outcome area and beneficiary group those investments are focusing on.

Who? We invite all social investors in the UK to contribute, which we define as investors who are targeting social outcomes. The basis of this data is investments made by intermediaries and funds that Big Society Capital has invested in, with a number of other investors which we have not directly invested in (such as Triodos, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and CAF Venturesome) voluntarily submitting their data because of the systemic benefits they see in data transparency. Not all the social investors we have asked have agreed to release data.

Deal-level data includes the investments made by intermediaries and funds that Big Society Capital have invested in, as well as those in which we have not invested.

Approach? The original aim of the deal-level data was to not let the best be the enemy of the good; as such, we have rolled it out with a minimum viable product mind-set and with each release, we try to improve it. The deal-level data is refreshed and released twice a year. The measure used is the £ amount committed by the intermediary to the frontline (this is the same measure as our signed KPI, but at a different level). Deal-level data is a growing data set and does not yet look at repayments or performance. We invite all contributors to update a shared google sheet, and we aim to make the process as efficient as possible, to minimise the burden on intermediaries. We spend time cleansing the data so that it can be analysed by outcome area, beneficiary group, legal form and asset lock of the investee.

Confidence? We have confidence in the accuracy of the data that is included in the dataset, however, some judgement needs to be used when aggregating the data in terms of the total £ amount and the total number of unique charities and social enterprises that the data set represents. See the latest deal-level data release for more on caveats.

Market Sizing

Why? We estimate the size of the UK social investment market once a year to take stock of progress in developing social investment, and to gauge how it is being used by charities and social enterprises.

Who? All investors included in the deal-level data are included in the market sizing estimate, as well as a few other investors whose data is only available at an aggregate level (and therefore is not included in the deal-level data).

Approach?  Using publically available sources where possible, two measures of Market Size are collated, and broken down by product area. The two measures are:

  • Outstanding amount: This is the £ amount of outstanding investment, also known as balance sheet amount. It is the drawn down amount less any repayments or write-offs.
  • Deal flow: This is the annual £ amount of deal flow measured by signed commitments made by investors (not drawdown amount). This is the same measure as used in the deal-level data.

Confidence? We have tried to retain a similar methodology over time so we are confident this gives a relatively good estimate of market growth. As we outlined in our notes on comparing market size there are likely to be significant areas that we have not included for data collection issues, such as friends and family loans, local authorities, equity and crowdfunding. We frequently (in 10-20% of cases) see these investors alongside our equity investments. It is likely therefore that this is a significant underestimate of the size of the social investment market. 

data dives into social investment blog series

This is the 5th bi-annual release of social investment deal level data and now captures over 2,500 investments into charities and social enterprises totalling nearly £1.2 billion.
In our third data dives into social investment, we look at the revenue sources and business models being used by charities and social enterprises to create, sustain or grow their positive social impact.
Our second Data Dives into Social Investment blog looks at the social outcomes being targeted by charities and social enterprises across the UK. 
market sizing dashboard

The size and composition of the UK social investment market - 2016 update

In March 2016, Big Society Capital released a report entitled The size and composition of social investment in the UK. We have now updated the central data in this report for the end of 2016. The scope of this update was limited to ‘Segment A[1]’, defined as where both investors and users of capital intend to make a positive social impact. 
data dives

Data Dives into Social Investment

Introducing our new series of blogs exploring social investment data visualisations.
Nick Benton
Data & Portfolio Director