Some readers may have noticed that there hasn’t been a blog post here for a while. That’s not because there hasn’t been anything going on in UK social enterprise, it’s because I’ve been working on a project called The Alternative Commission on Social Investment. The press release below explains what it’s all about.
It would be great to hear what you think – either via email or below.
Normal blogging service will be resumed shortly.
NEWS RELEASE – FOR RELEASE AT MIDNIGHT THURSDAY 26th MARCH 2015
Commission proposes more open, social and responsive alternatives to rescue social investment from hype and hubris
In a report After the Gold Rush published today, Friday 27th March, the Alternative Commission on Social Investment called for less hype, greater transparency from investors, changes to Big Society Capital, and a more principled approach to social investment which puts charities and social enterprises at its heart.
The Commission explored, through a series of roundtables, interviews and research, the access to finance needs of social sector organisations and whether social investment, as currently conceived, can meet that need. The report proposes 50 ways to make social investment more successful and more social.
Through its work, the Commission sought to be more inclusive, more diverse and less London-focused than much of the social investment industry. The work of the Commission Team was guided by 14 Commissioners, all of whom have some interest and knowledge of social investment but who offer diverse experiences and perspectives.
- Commission Secretariat and Managing Director 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.”
- Caroline Mason, Chief Executive of Esmée Fairbairn Foundation 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. If social investment is to help charities and social enterprises improve the quality of people’s lives across the UK, then their voices need to be central in policy, market and product development.”
- Professor Alex Nicholls, one of the Commissioners and Professor of Social Entrepreneurship at the Saïd Business School, Oxford University said “Since the financial crisis, we have seen increasing interest in how capital might be harnessed for social good. But the danger here is that we simply recreate models from mainstream financial markets and expect them to work in the social sector, while at the same time letting social values succumb to the power of capital. Instead, we need fairer, more open and inclusive investment models that can help tackle inequality.”
The Commission’s 10 key recommendations are (see report for full wording):
- Social investors, including Big Society Capital to go much further in publishing information about the investments they make.
- Social investors to be clear about how social aspects are weighed up in their investment approach.
- A reconsideration of the role of Big Society Capital, prioritising its impact over its own existence.
- Unravelling the mix between ‘the people’s’ Unclaimed Assets and money invested by the Merlin banks to allow Big Society Capital to better meet demand.
- Politicians and advocates of social investment to minimise social investment hype.
- 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
- The development of a set of defining principles for truly social investments
- Social investors’ approaches, staff and locations to better reflect and understand the market they are seeking to serve.
- A Compare the Market or Trip Advisor type tool which enables charities and social enterprises to rate their experiences of social investors.
- Large charities and social enterprises to invest in other social sector organisations through peer-to peer models.