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Learning and development for social impact investment professionals

In January, our thoughts often turn to the new skills and knowledge we want to gain in the coming year. To help with this, we’re publishing the Learning and Development Framework we use at Big Society Capital with the hope that it might be useful for others and so we can learn from how others use it.

The Framework reflects the experience we’ve gained from our first seven years on what is required to make social investment work, and how to build effective individuals, teams and processes to deliver our approach.

At Big Society Capital, we aim to effectively identify complex social problems, and design and execute investment solutions alongside partners to improve people’s lives in the UK. To achieve this, we believe we need to combine strategic problem solving, multi-sector knowledge and investment skills. As a result, our learning approach centres on these three areas and is importantly underpinned by our organisational values

Our Framework goes into these three areas in more detail:

  1. Knowledge – We believe multi-sector knowledge is essential to effectively operate across social impact investing from the social issue through to sustainable enterprise models, investors’ needs and the broader ecosystem in which social impact investing sits.
  2. Strategic problem solving – Social impact investing is seeking to address complex social problems and in many instances strive for systems change. We believe this requires a greater focus on strategic problem solving, human-centred design thinking and collaboration.
  3. Investment management skills – Social impact investing management skills combine standard private market investment processes with social impact and evaluation approaches. We believe this combination can best balance and maximise the financial and social impact objectives of an investment.

We developed this Framework in-house at Big Society Capital to support the development of our investment team. And over time we’ve been iterating it, using feedback from the team and by consulting with a range of social impact investing organisations.

We wanted to share this Framework so that asset owners and asset managers in the UK and globally can use and adapt it for their own needs. It’s intended as a guide for individual development, principally for those already engaged with social impact investing but also has the potential to be used as the basis for learning and training curriculum for those entering the impact space.

It’s important to recognise that this Framework is just one tool for successful learning in social impact investing, and can benefit from being used alongside other competency frameworks.

What’s next?

Our plan is to continue to iterate the Framework as we receive more feedback on how others are using it and also as the requirements of social impact investing evolve over time. We’re keen to hear how useful you find each of the components and also if you think we’re missing something.

We’ve made a start developing a resource toolkit that accompanies the Framework and that we’re still testing internally. This maps suggested resources against each of the components and the underlying learning areas, including free and paid for courses, reading and suggested work experience. We plan to publish a first version of this resource toolkit during 2019. We’d really value help in capturing more resources so that we can support more individuals to develop their skills and knowledge in social impact investing.

If you have any feedback on either or both of these areas, or would like to explore how to work together on this initiative, please email Rebecca McCartney at or Jeremy Rogers at

Last updated | 
7 January 2019


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