Investors young and old opt for social investments over environmental

by | Mar 29, 2022

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People, on average, will opt for investments tackling social over environmental challenges when given the choice, according to new research from Big Society Capital, the UK’s leading social impact investor.

All respondents were invited to choose three options across a range of social and environmental causes regarding their investment preference. Yet more than half (57%) of all under 45-year-olds, and two-thirds (67%) of all under 25s in the survey chose social impact investments of different types rather than an environmentally motivated investment.

The survey of UK adults with at least one investment outside of their pension showed that age does impact motivations toward responsible investments.

It reveals that those under the age of 25 prioritise investing in areas making a positive social impact. ‘Health and wellbeing’ attracted the most interest among the 18- to 24-year-olds, with almost four out of ten (39%) saying they would choose to invest their money in this area, for example a mental health charity, before environmental protection (selected by 33%).


The findings demonstrate that as people grow older, they seem to become more concerned with investing in environmental protection. For 25-year-olds and over, green issues top the list of preferred impact investment areas with the proportion of people selecting this increasing as they get older. For example, 42% of 25 to 34-year-olds would want to invest in environmental protection compared to considerably more, 57%, for the over 55s. 

James Westhead, Head of Engagement at Big Society Capital said: “It may be a surprise to many that younger people, the future generations that will most feel the impact of climate change, have a discernible interested in using their capital to support people in society.

The interest in social impact investing is really encouraging as it has a huge role to play in supporting charities and social enterprises that provide essential services across the country, as well as contributing to the levelling up of the economy. Now is the time to capitalise on the huge social benefits that social impact investing can bring.”


Looking at all investors together, when considering how to invest their money to make a positive impact, while receiving the same return, environmental protection was top of the list, chosen by almost half, 48%. Homelessness, domestic violence, social inequality, and racial justice were also important factors influencing investment decisions for those wanting to make an impact.

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