Changing Lives, Changing Systems

What does it take to make impact at scale?

We exist to make lasting change in people’s lives, but scaling that impact is not easy.

After over a decade working across issues, testing different approaches and working with a growing pool of partners, we wanted to take stock and to ask ourselves two questions:

‘What does it take to make impact at scale?’ and ‘What have we learned?’

The result of this year-long investigation is our Changing Lives, Changing Systems series.

In our Building routes to scale report, we explore what impact at scale looks like when it happens and share our practical framework, developed to help understand, target and plan for change that sticks.

In our case study series, we share our insights from five initiatives we have worked on in the last five years, setting out our lessons on what works – and what doesn’t – when pursuing impact at scale.

Scaling impact is a collaborative process that cannot be done alone. We share this work with inspired changemakers sitting in community organisations, local and central government, charities, foundations, social change intermediaries and businesses. We hope that by sharing our reflections and ideas, we can continue a dialogue on the roles we can each play in bringing about the change we want to see, together.

Building routes to scale

Here, we share our insights from a decade of seeking to make change at scale and draw on lessons from those who have made significant progress towards – or even achieved – impact at scale to set out our framework for building routes to scale.

We consider what lasting change for people and society looks like in practice, what building blocks underpin it, and what different strategies can help put these in place.

The framework (pictured below) starts with the big end goal – defining the change you want to see – and works back to the foundations that are needed to enable the work. Our hope is that this practical tool demystifies the range of possible approaches and helps changemakers define their contributions to a bigger goal.

Case study series

Our Changing Lives, Changing Systems case study series shares what we have learned in pursuing impact at scale in five initiatives that we have worked on over the last five years. We set out our biggest lessons and our reflections on our journey to date.

Providing decent homes to families at risk of homelessness

Housing Gateway is a company owned by Enfield Council that rents homes to people who would otherwise be homeless.

The report explores Housing Gateway’s ‘open source’ approach to share its model for housing families by making it freely available for others to adopt or copy.

Helping families stay together

Positive Families Partnership (PFP) is a programme to keep vulnerable families together and prevent young people from being taken into care in London.

We share PFP’s ‘platform’ approach which structured the programme to enable new areas to join with minimal difficulty.

Reconnecting lonely older people with their community

Reconnections is a service which aims to address loneliness and social isolation among older people. After launch it was transferred to Independent Age – a leading UK wide charity that supports older people and has the specialist skills and resources to replicate it.

We share Reconnections’ ‘transfer’ approach of a social model to another organisation which may prove valuable to voluntary sector organisations to help achieve greater impact.

Supporting people with health conditions into paid work

Health & Employment Partnerships (HEP) is a social purpose company set up by Social Finance to help people with health conditions and disabilities secure, sustain and retain fulfilling work.

We share HEP’s portfolio programme approach that has pursued a wide variety of routes to develop and spread better models of employment support for people with health conditions.

Lessons from reducing and preventing domestic violence

Drive is a partnership between Respect, SafeLives and Social Finance, which seeks to end the cycle of domestic abuse by addressing the systemic gaps in the intervention with high harm perpetrators.

We share Drive’s practical experience of creating systemic change in the response to domestic violence by the police, social services and other agencies.


Let’s talk

At Social Finance, we are still in the foothills of the change we want to see. In some issues we have made real progress, in others we have hit barriers. By sharing our reflections and insights, we hope to continue a discussion about how to bring about the change we want to see, together.

We’d love to continue the conversation – get in touch at


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