Engagement in the Social Investment Market

Engagement in the social investment market


Nikki Jeffrey and Richard Jenkins

Publication date

October 2013




This briefing is the first investigation into the approaches and motivations of trusts and foundations with regard to social investments.

Drawn from a survey of over 80 trusts and foundations, alongside interviews with key players within the sector, the research casts a revealing light on the realities of social investment from the perspective of a community with a rich history of supporting social good using the wide variety of assets and expertise at their disposal.

The research reveals foundations as key contributors to the social investment market, with £100 million set aside to date as risk capital for charities and social enterprises, of which £50 million has already been committed to specific investments. The report shows that typical investments tended to be loans made directly to voluntary organisations that find it hard to access mainstream finance, often due to them being start-ups or being in the process of scaling up.

Painting a nuanced picture of the role of social investments, the findings also show that the vast majority of respondents see them as supplementary to grant-giving rather than as potential replacements. However, foundations also reported that others in the market often misunderstood the constraints that trustees have, especially the need to ensure that social investments are aligned with charitable objectives.


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