Getting past the complexities of scaling social impact

Smaller charities can lack ambition and should consider scaling up in order to extend their work to more beneficiaries, according to a new paper from the charity think tank NPC.

The paper, entitled Growing Pains: Getting past the complexities of scaling social impact, argues that a solution for keeping up with the rising demand for charity services would be to scale up the services that already work, whether by expanding in size or by innovating to help existing initiatives reach more people.

It states that options for developing a charity’s reach, including venture philanthropy, social investment and licensing models to other organisations, are underused and that charities lack information about how to scale.

It also describes what it calls the "capital chasm" that has arisen because donors also overlook the potential of charities scaling up in favour of funding start-ups and existing projects.

The authors of the paper, David Bull, Sarah Hedley and Jessica Nicholls, warn that scaling up is not appropriate for all charities and the decision to get bigger can be a fraught one.

To download the paper visit