Expanding the market for social investment:
what role for impact measurement?

Held on Wednesday, October 7


  • Matt Robinson (Big Society Capital)

  • Nathan Elstub (Nesta)

  • Karl Richter (EngagedX)

  • Christine Allison (CSFI)



More than two years ago, the UK (then the President of the G8) hosted a Social Impact Investment Forum – promoting social impact investing and pioneering “pay-for-success” financial instruments such as Social Impact Bonds.

That was a good first step. But how do you measure impact? That is important not just to those whose concern is the social return – i.e. is the investment actually doing good? It is also important to those who are more traditional “financial-first” investors, whose financial return is tied to outcomes that may be very hard to measure.

There is a lot going on in this space, and it is well worth reviewing, since social impact measurement clearly has enormous potential – enabling investors to “do well by doing good”. We are, therefore, delighted to have been able to put together a distinguished panel. In addition to our own Financial Inclusion Fellow, Christine Allison – formerly with the World Bank, now a member of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s task group – we have:

  • Matt Robinson, head of strategy and market development at Big Society Capital, which manages a £600m investment fund. He is also a director of the Energise Social Impact Bond, and sits on the steering groups for DfID’s £75 million Impact Fund and the Cabinet Office’s £10 million social incubator fund.
  • Nathan Elstub, CIO at Nesta Investment Management, with overall responsibility for Nesta’s investment activities. Nesta (formerly the National Endowment for Science, Technology & the Arts) is now an independent charity dedicated to innovation in areas from arts to education. It also runs a £17.6 million impact investment fund addressing what it calls “big social issues”.
  • Karl Richter, CEO and co-founder of EngagedX, which recently published data on the UK social investment market - revealing, for the first time, comparative financial performance over the last 12 years. EngagedX has also been appointed by the European Commission to shape an impact assessment framework that reflects industry best practice.