What is the gritty reality of social investment? If I were being cruel I would start by misquoting a saying most frequently credited to the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius “Life is really simple, but lawyers insist on making it complicated. “
When you invest socially, is your intention to gain or give? Premal Shah, President [and co-founder] of the social lending platform Kiva, asked this loaded question to a packed audience at this year’s Marmalade session on people-powered social investment.
We often hear anecdotally of the number of charities and social enterprises that could take social investment and know many social investors are busy trying to find them. But given the hundreds of thousands of organisations in the social sector, it can often feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack. So how can we better connect the right investors to the right charities and social enterprises?
Core Assets is a fostering and children’s services group based in Bromsgrove. As it reaches the milestone of young people in care now ‘graduating’ from the Social Impact Bond contract it delivers for Birmingham City Council, co-founder Jan Rees OBE reflects on the necessity to continually challenge the system to change vulnerable young people’s lives for the better.
When did tax get to be so interesting? I guess that’s an easy answer for us at Big Society Capital and our friends at Social Investment Scotland who this week announced seven new investments totalling £389k from their dedicated Social Investment Tax Relief Fund, Community Capital.
Last week, it was great to be able to participate in a discussion on social investment with the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Charities and Volunteering – the first time this topic had been discussed at length with parliamentarians interested in the voluntary sector.
In the wake of so much negative press around tax dodges, how delightful to see this week’s announcement from South Bristol Sports Centre on the launch of their £1million sports scheme, £250k of which was raised using Social Investment Tax Relief.
For children from disadvantaged backgrounds, a good education can be the key to opening up new opportunities. Higher education, in particular, has been shown to have a significant effect on a young person's career prospects and lifetime earnings, and as a result, their social mobility. Yet it’s also widely true that students from disadvantaged backgrounds are much more likely to underperform academically versus their more affluent peers.
We know that all too often there is a mismatch between the hype of social investment and the gritty reality. Part of this is a mismatch of expectations – between the social investor with the money, and the social enterprise looking to raise finance. And in my experience, this mismatch is particularly striking around the issue of governance.
Who should be a social investor? Should social investment be the preserve of big financial institutions, charitable foundations, large companies and high-net-worth individuals? Or should this be accessible to regular people who identify with a social issue or a community and want to do everything they can to help?