A wider view of social investment

According to the Government and many leading economists, we are about to embark on the decade of Social Investment. But what exactly is it?

As with most ideas, the answer depends on who you speak to.

For some, Social Investment, or Impact Investing, is about investing and receiving a market rate return whilst also achieving a social 'impact'. For example, the impact could be getting young people into work or funding vital communication aids for disabled children.

Social investment can therefore be seen as an extension of Socially Responsible Investment (SRI).

Delivering greater social impact for less money

Social Investment could also be seen as an extension of Philanthropy.

When viewed this way, we can see that Social Investment in the widest sense is not new. People have been 'investing' to solve social problems and achieve an impact, usually at financial return of -100%, for hundreds of years.

The question from this perspective is how can we deliver the same or a better social impact in a more efficient way?

By framing the question this way you give room for charities and social enterprises to improve their business models. If they develop a way of solving the same social problem for a -50% financial return, their donors and investors are repaid some of their capital which could be recycled into new initiatives. This strategy will deliver greater social impact for less money.