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Social impact investing research

The Department of Social Services commissioned the Social impact investing research report. The report provides a comprehensive summary of the evidence available on various forms of social impact investment and is designed to be a useful reference for government, philanthropy and charitable sectors.

The research aims were to:

  • identify the potential benefit, if any, of different forms of social impact investment
  • quantify how these benefits are realised
  • identify areas where social impact investment approach could be a valuable tool to more efficiently and effectively achieve policy objectives; and
  • provide case studies to demonstrate successful social impact investments.

Key findings include:

  • while the report identified examples of positively performing social impact bonds and realised savings to government, these were based on short term results. Many social impact bonds are not yet mature enough to definitively measure outcomes
  • social impact investing funds show positive short term results, particularly evident in relation to areas where there is significant unmet need such as affordable housing, home and community care and early childhood education; and
  • there is also limited evidence on the benefits of direct private investor social impact investing in Australia. While larger social enterprises such as Goodstart systematically report the social and economic impact of their activities, most sector participants are smaller in size and limited outcomes measurement capability. The United Kingdom’s more substantive evidence base suggests benefits can be realised.

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© Commonwealth of Australia 2016

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