Social Finance Round Up: Governments Invest in Social Finance – compliments of


Posted: 21 May 2013 11:43 AM PDT on

By Bronwyn Oatley produces a regular round up featuring social finance related news, insights, job openings, and events. We source the content for these round ups from Twitter, an RSS reader, and directly from our community of social finance practitioners. Below is our round up for for the first three weeks of May.

Recently on 

Canadian and International News:

On May 16, the city of Vancouver committed to its continued support for the social enterprise sector in British Columbia, guaranteeing $380,000 in grant funding over the next two years to build the capacity of the province’s social businesses.

At the federal level, investment in social enteprise and social finance was also on the agenda. On Monday May 6, Human Resources Minister Diane Finley released Harnessing the Power of Social Finance, a long-awaited report that covers the submissions to the government’s call for concepts for social finance. Over the 13-month submission period, the government received a total of 154 responses to the request for concepts. Submissions came from citizens, charities and businesses alike, and the government received proposals on the potential on the use of social impact bonds, social investment funds and other social finance tools.

Following the announcement, major news outlets across the country weighed in on the potential benefits and costs of the use of Social Impact Bonds. Sherri Torjman of the Globe and Mail was one such voice, noting that, “In theory, the announcement is a positive development for Canada,” but warned of potential problems associated with SIBs as a result of “skimming” (the process by which an organization selects program candidates who are most likely to succeed, skewing program results); and cautioned that SIBs must be implemented in conjunction with a broad swath of other financing and social reforms in order to protect Canada’s lowest income earners.

In other social impact bond news, The Economist reflected upon some of the lessons learned from the Peteborough SIB project in the United Kingdom—the inaugural SIB project in the world—three years following its launch.

In the United States too, SIBs continue to make headlines. In recent weeks, the Obama government has shown a dramatic increase in support for Pay for Success programs, requesting nearly $500 million in the 2014 budget to fund such programs. The request represents a dramatic leap from the previous two years, when the President requested significantly less. (In 2012 the President requested $100 million, and in 2013, $109 million). Neither proposal was passed in Congress. The most recent proposal has received significant attention, in part as a result of the President’s inclusion of a $300 million fund that would seek to incentivize the development of Social Impact Bonds by state and local governments.

Reports and Learning:

Last week, the United Kingdom’s Cabinet office released its “Knowledge Box“ on social impact bonds. The website contains current thinking on SIBs as well as case studies and further resources.

The Learning By Giving Foundation, founded by Doris Buffet, Warren Buffet’s sister, has announced “Giving with Purpose” the first-ever Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on “effective charitable giving”. Students of the course will have the opportunity to learn from accomplished philanthropists and distribute sums of the foundation’s capital.

On May 13, Lord Young, the advisor on enterprise to Prime Minister David Cameron, published a report, “Growing your business: a report on growing microbusinesses.” The report focuses on small and medium size enterprises.

David Henderson, the co-founder of Idealistics Inc. discusses the concept of “automated grant making,” and its potential utility for social businesses, allowing organizations to be consistent in their grant giving across different sectors. According to Henderson, the idea comes from a practice used in the private sector called, “utility elicitation,” in which top-level executives are led through a series of decision-making tests (prioritizing one decision over another) in an effort to determine their decision-making frameworks which are then replicated over time, without needing their direct oversight.

The Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion, the group charged with carrying out the financial inclusion action plan established at by the Group of 20 (G20) in 2010, has released a report, noting the degrees of relative “financial inclusion” experienced by 192 around the world. The report finds that: “Despite significant financial sector growth in recent years, large disparities in the level of financial inclusion persist across countries and regions.”

Sound Bites: 

1) Speaking at the Charity Finance Group’s annual London-based conference, consultant Joe Saxon encouraged foundations to lose the long-winded reports. “Turn the impact report into something with ‘word bites’ and sound bites you can use on the radio, or when you are talking to staff,” he said. The co-founder of consultancy organization nfpSynergy, called traditional reports “deeply boring” and suggested that that organizations shorten their summaries in order to attract the attention of donors.

2) Writing for the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Matthew Forti, the director of One Acre Fund USA, reflected upon the conversation at this year’s Skoll Forum. He suggested, “At the end of the day, the usefulness of any measurement tool depends on whether it is the best at addressing a high-priority question that a decision-maker at any level of an organization is seeking to answer.” More on his comments is available here.

3) “A lot of charitable money … is invested in perpetuating the issues we’re meant to be tackling,” said Peter Holbrook, chief executive of Social Enterprise UK at the Charity Finance Group’s annual conference. Holbrook’s message for finance directors: be more bold.

Jobs and Opportunities:

The Youth Social Innovation Capital Fund is seeking young social entrepreneurs (between the ages of 18 and 35) to apply for microloans of between $1,000 and $10,000. The YSIC is committed to providing young social entrepreneurs with the “skills, connections and financial resources to succeed.” The deadline for applications is June 30, 2013.

RADIUS Social Innovation Lab and Incubator is seeking a lead for their RADIUS Ventures Program. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until May 31, 2013.

Purpose Capital is seeking a summer research intern for the to add to the company’s growing team of impact investors. Applications are currently accepted on a rolling basis. The position will begin as soon as applicants are selected (proposed: May 2013) and will finish at the end of August 2013.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector investment arm of the World Bank, is seeking to hire a short term consultant to do impact investing in health and education across Sub-Saharan Africa. If interested, contact, with a resume attached.The IFC seeks an applicant who could begin late June or early July.


Social Finance Connects: Demonstrating Impact – From Corporate Structures to Certifications Webinar - May 30, 2013 at MaRS Discovery District, 101 Collete St., Toronto

MaRS Impact Venture Pitch Fair - June 6, 2013 at MaRS Discovery District, 101 College St., Toronto

Toronto Triple Bottom Line Investment (TBLI) Conference - June 17-18, 2013 at United Federation of Teachers, New York, NY

Institute for Social Banking Summer School 2013 – ‘Come Together: Social Banking & The Commons’ – 
July 14-19, 2013 at Seminarhotel Lihn, Filzbach, Switzerland

CVCA Annual Conference - May 22-24, 2013, Banff, AB

Measuring & Evaluating Outcomes In Practice Conference - May 23, 2013, London, United Kingdom

CFC Conference - June 6-8, 2013, Winnipeg, MB

Canadian Responsible Investing Conference - June 17-19, 2013, Vancouver, BC

Partners for Global Impact - July 10-11, 2013, Lugano, Switzerland

SoCAP – September 2-5, 2013 at Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA

Association of Canadian Pension Management Annual Conference - September 10-12, 2013, Ottawa, ON

Ontario NonProfit Conference 2013, “NonProfit Reframed” – September 19-20, 2013 at University of Toronto Chestnut Residence and Conference Centre, Toronto, ON

Social Enterprise World Forum - October 2-4, 2013, Calgary, AB

Opportunity Collaboration - October 14-19, 2013, Ixtapa, Mexico

Opportunity Finance Network Conference - October 15-18, 2013, Philadelphia, PA

BSR Conference - November 5-8, 2013, San Francisco, CA

SEEP Annual Conference - November 4-7, 2013, Arlington, VA

Triple Bottom Line Investment Conference Europe - November 14-15, 2013, Zurich, Switzerland

Schwab Impact 2013 - Nov 10-13, 2013, Washington, DC

Harvard Social Enterprise Conference - February 9-10, 2013, Boston, MA

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