Social investment, social finance, impact investment. Call it what you will; using non-grant approaches to finance social goals is big news. Investors want to know how to do it, advisors want to know how to tell them to do it, CSOs want to know how to take advantage of it, and governments want to know how to smooth the way for it to happen even more.
Social investment (as I interpret it, at least) encompasses a very broad range of approaches and expectations, from making loans where there is a “negative return” (i.e. some but not all capital paid back) to equity investments in social businesses that are able to deliver near-market financial returns. It is important to remember this when considering why social investment is such hot news, as this spectrum of approaches obviously mirrors a wide range of motivations amongst potential investors.