BIG Lottery comes out in favour of social investment

In the same week that New Philanthropy Capital warns that charities that take on social investment prematurely threaten to damage a “young market”, the BIG Lottery announces Next Steps: Supporting Social Investment in England, a new £6m fund intended to help pilot, test or set up new social investment vehicles.

In order to be successful, applicants must demonstrate that their proposals will “improve the lives of communities and people most in need through the development of robust social investment vehicles” and will help learn more about social investment “in practice”.

By “social investment vehicle” BIG says it means specific financial products such as a social impact bond, or a fund comprising a portfolio of loans.

I know that the Lottery in recent years has been increasingly aligned with government policy, but this begins to look more like being bent to political purpose…. Nonetheless, I imagine that this will be of great interest to organisations — such as in this post — seeking to develop their own Social Impact Bonds or underwrite the transaction costs of a Bond….

Update: There’s a good piece by Sarah Hedley (analyst at New Philanthropy Capital) on the Guardian Professional blog — she considers in a series of well-reasoned arguments whether social investment models are right, especially for charities.

Thanks to Chris Newis at BDRC for the pointer the Big Lottery announcement.

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