After the gold rush: saving social investment from hype and hubris

Social investors such as Big Society Capital must be more transparent about the investments they make, concludes a new report by the Alternative Commission on Social Investment.

The After the Gold Rush report also calls for better tools to help charities and social enterprises rate their experiences of social investors, and a reconsideration of the role of Big Society Capital, so that it is focussed on “prioritising its impact over its own existence”.

Commission team leader and CEO of Social Spider CIC David Floyd said: “We often hear from ministers, champions of social investment and the G8 that the UK is a world leader in social investment. Yet for charities and social entrepreneurs here in the UK, it doesn’t feel like that.

"The Alternative Commission on Social Investment was set up to ask why and to make some practical suggestions as to how things could be improved.”

Through a series of roundtables, interviews and research, the Commission explored social investment accessibility for social ventures in the UK and proposes 50 ways to make the market more successful and more social.

Social Spider CIC was awarded a grant by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation to carry out the project, which was guided by 14 commissioners from the UK social investment sector including Daniel Brewer from Resonance and Sam Tarff from Key Fund

CEO of Esmée Fairbairn Foundation Caroline Mason said: “I welcome the publication of this timely and revealing report. Social investment is a wonderful tool but to enable social change we need to improve and develop on its execution.” 

The somewhat damning report also recommends for “politicians and advocates of social investment to minimise social investment hype” and “for government policy to move away from looking to grow the relatively tiny ‘social investment market’ for its own sake and focus instead more on the needs of charities and social enterprises”.

CEO of the Social Investment Business Jonathan Jenkins told Pioneers Post: “I welcome all contributions and suggestions to improve social investment. I’ve been saying for some time that all social investors must get better at meeting the needs of frontline organisations and this report echoes that.
“However, we must be careful not to over-react. Just because social investment is not meeting the blue-sky thinking of a few years ago doesn’t mean success isn’t happening. This is still a relatively young market and many of the issues identified in the report are being addressed through initiatives such as Big Potential or the Access Foundation.”

To download the full After the Gold Rush report, click here.


Photo credit: Duncan Harris