How social investment impacts an organisation: Improving their financial resilience and growing their social impact


Written by

Gabriel Ng, Investment Director

At Big Society Capital, we know that charities and social enterprises are central to our mission to improve the lives of people in the UK. One of the reasons we invest is to help these organisations grow and/or become more resilient, thereby building a stronger social sector and helping them deliver more impact on people’s lives.

Over the past months, we have been running a pilot in partnership with Access – the Foundation for Social Investment, with contributions and help from social investment fund managers, Northstar Ventures, Big Issue Invest, Key Fund, GMCVO (Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisation) and Social Investment Scotland, to try to understand how social investment can improve a social enterprise’s financial resilience and growth. This led to us creating a new framework to understand why organisations take on social investment and how they use the proceeds; we then gathered financial data to understand how they had fared financially since receiving investment, and followed that up with a survey to hear from investees themselves.

After collecting this information, we sat down with two of the respondents to get a first-hand account beyond the survey responses of the nuances of the impact social investment had on their organisations:

Fair for You

Emma Goodwin, Deputy CEO of Fair for You, told us about how social investment helped them grow their impact. Fair for You, an ethical lender providing an alternative to high-cost credit, received loans from both Big Issue Invest’s Social Enterprise Investment Fund 2 and Social Investment Scotland’s Social Growth Fund, helping them go from making 3,700 loans to now making over 50,000 per year. Beyond just scale, Fair for You were also able to expand their product offering, allowing them to reach more vulnerable people that they could not previously serve. Read full case study.

Positive Support For You

Dave Barras, the founder and CEO of Positive Support For You, explained how social investment improved their financial resilience. Positive Support For You is a Community Interest Company that supports people with a learning disability, autism and/or challenging behaviour to live a meaningful and quality life in the community; they received a loan from Northstar Ventures’ North East Social Investment Fund, which allowed them to stop using high-cost borrowing, saving the organisation £50,000 per year of interest costs and stabilising their cash position. It also allowed them to invest in their internal systems, making their workplace more inclusive and allowing them to hire a specialist to help highly vulnerable clients. Read full case study.

Speaking to both Emma and David helped vividly illustrate our theory that social investment can improve organisational resilience and grow social impact. Our final report, due by this summer, will detail the findings from our pilot and explain the progress we have made in understanding how social investment can impact an enterprise, as well as the challenges we have faced. For more information on our work on enterprise level impact, please reach out to Gabriel Ng.