The challenge

The UK’s social investment landscape is evolving, but there remain many challenges and barriers to its potential as a transformative force for social impact. Those we have experienced and researched include:

  • Philanthropic organisations need greater case studies, regulatory certainty and support to test new and innovative forms of funding
  • Social purpose organisations need better information, access and engagement to identify appropriate funding types – whether grants, debt or equity – that best meet their needs
  • The social sector needs to improve the quality of shared data and insights to identify and fill funding gaps

Our contribution

We are running an ongoing programme of research, discussion and collaboration with funders and partners across the UK’s social investment landscape including CAF Venturesome, Unltd and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. We aim to unearth evidence and data to better understand challenges and barriers, identify opportunities to open up new forms of funding, and share insights widely to empower different funders and organisations to make change. As part of this, we are always actively seeking collaborators and partners to test new approaches to social investment – especially patient, risk-bearing capital, following our research on this funding.

We recognise the need for different types of capital in this market with impact driven ventures often requiring capital that is patient, flexible and aligned to impact ambitions.

David Bartram, Director of Ventures at Unltd

So far…

  • Consultation with leading charitable foundations
  • Unlocking More Philanthropic Capital discussion paper highlighting best practice
  • Research conducted with 300+ social purpose organisations in England and Wales
  • Beyond Demand report revealing social sector’s need for patient, risk-bearing capital
  • Calls for further research and enquiry


Beyond Demand: the social sector’s need for patient, risk-bearing capital

May 29, 2020

Research conducted by Shift in partnership with CAF Venturesome, Unltd and principal funder Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

Unlocking More Philanthropic Capital for Social Investment: An Exploration of Best Practice

November 20, 2018

Improving the financial support for social entrepreneurs who are using non-traditional business models and structures