The social investment sector needs to engage more with those who have lived experience in order to make better decisions, a Young Foundation report says.
Nothing About Us, Without Us: Lived Experience Insight & Social Investment was published earlier this week and argues that increasing user engagement should be a priority for social investors.
Researchers collected evidence from over 40 charities, social enterprises and investors to look at how lived experience could be meaningfully understood and used by social investors, which as intermediary organisations are often not in direct contact with service users.
The report says there is a broad trend in the charity and foundation sectors to move towards co-design and community-led projects, but that currently it is not common practice for social investors to involve end users directly in their decisions.
The report includes a series of practical examples and case studies.
Nothing About Us, Without Us, concludes: “The value and need to listen to the people we are intending to serve is no longer a ‘nice to have’.
“The evidence for improving quality, delivery and creating new kinds of relationships with people who hold different, but profound, kinds of knowledge about their lives and the contexts in which they live is overwhelming.”
It recommends running pilots and sharing the findings.
Helen Goulden, chief executive of the Young Foundation, said: “Nothing About Us Without Us is the start of a learning journey, both for us and we hope the rest of the sector. We want to work as a collective to learn, pilot and shift our collective practice to involve people more effectively, respectfully and well in our work.”
Barrow Cadbury Fund and Big Society Capital supported the research.
Cliff Prior, chief executive of Big Society Capital, said: “This vital report is the start of a future which respects, involves and hears the voices of the people we are all working for, a future where social impact investing will be more impactful, with more integrity, and with stronger results.”