Evolution not revolution, 10 years of social investment

To mark the 10th anniversary of our Social Investment Fund, we’ve written a report reflecting on the achievements, insights and lessons learned to date.

The Evolution not revolution report shows how the fund has invested almost £50M in over 100 organisations supporting everything from 1,300 people at risk of homelessness to new habitats for Great Crested Newts. It looks at successes, where things have worked less well and highlights ‘the Esmée Way’ of making social investments.

The report’s main insights focus on the following:

  • The need to start with understanding the issue to be solved before choosing an investment vehicle
  • The importance of getting the investor/investee relationship right
  • The need to keep things simple and the value of investor flexibility.

It also highlights the challenges of measuring impact; the need for investors to be patient in what is still an emerging market and to also recognise the difficulties faced by a social enterprise aiming to disrupt or launch in commercial markets.

Finally, the report looks at the future: how we can improve our practice by capitalising organisations better, the inherent risks of the market and the relationship social investments have with the manner we invest our endowment.

Chief executive Caroline Mason said:

The document describes our approach, or ‘the Esmée Way’. We hope it is helpful but, more than anything, that it raises awareness of where and how social investment can sit usefully alongside other tools and forms of funding to help the remarkable organisations who do so much on behalf of all of us.

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