Evaluation and Support of the Big Issue Invest Corporate Social Venturing Programme

Impact: Public policy impacts, Economic impacts, 08: Decent Work and Economic Growth (UN SDG), 09: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure (UN SDG), 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities (UN SDG)

Description of impact

The research team's three-year evaluation of the Big Issue Invest Corporate Social Venturing (CSV) Programme, supported by the Cabinet Office, led to the refinement and development of the University of Northampton's 'Social Impact Matrix', as well as the ongoing refinement of the CSV. The Director of Big Issue Invest has testified that the ‘University’s evaluation for the Corporate Social Venturing Programme, led by Professor Richard Hazenberg, was integral to the successful functioning of the programme and its continued refinement over time’. The research was ‘particularly critical in allowing [Big Issue Invest] to demonstrate the social value of the programme and to retain support, especially from the Cabinet Office’ [5.2], as the report [3.6] showed that the CSV had generated up to £37 million of social impact from just £2.6 million of investment and pro-bono corporate support.

The ‘Social Impact Matrix©’ developed as part of the research has now been used with 54 public/private/third sector organisations globally. This has allowed these organisations to map their impact, and to measure and disseminate this to key stakeholders. Indeed, from a sub-sample of ten of these reports (including work for the Ministry of Defence, Goodwill Solutions, Canal and River Trust, Northamptonshire County Council and Big Issue) the social impact analysis has identified cumulative impacts of nearly £283 million.

This data also informed the University’s overall social investment strategy, which has been recognised for its impact by Big Society Capital in the form of an online case-study [5.5]. This is the only case-study that BSC have produced aside from the University of Edinburgh, evidencing the national impact of our work.


Big Issue Invest
Cabinet Office

How have research outputs led to this impact?

The research directly led to the refinement of the Social Impact Matrix and the the CSV programme. In demonstrating the social impact generated by the CSV, it also directly led to the continuation of the CSV and the support of the Cabinet Office.

Social impact measurement approaches developed through the team's previous research were piloted with 42 social enterprises engaged through Big Issue Invest’s ‘Corporate Social Venturing’ programme (supported by the Cabinet Office). This allowed us to refine our approach and led to the development of the University’s ‘Social Impact Matrix©’. This new approach to social impact measurement is a crucial element in promoting VCSE sustainability, as it combines the European Commissions GECES standards with a holistic framework for measuring impact (practice). This led to us producing a E3M Policy Paper in collaboration with Mr Jim Clifford OBE (Chair of the European Commission’s GECES sub-committee) into social impact measurement, which outlined a 10-point best practice code for delivering impact measurement research and argued for commissioners, investors and VCSEs to engage in collaborative impact measurement to demonstrate social value. The 10-point code and the ‘Social Impact Matrix©’ allows VCSEs to demonstrate both the softer outcomes they have on beneficiaries, and the broader (monetised) impacts that they deliver for society. This is critical to the successful functioning of outcomes-based commissioning and social investment contracts, as our research engaging commissioners, investors, VCSEs and funders identified the need for more knowledge in the sector and specifically amongst public sector officials including commissioners.
Impact statusCompleted
Impact date1 May 201430 Nov 2017
Category of impactPublic policy impacts, Economic impacts, 08: Decent Work and Economic Growth (UN SDG), 09: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure (UN SDG), 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities (UN SDG)
Impact levelMature Impact