Why did we do this?
Whether we call it formal or informal volunteering, giving, social action or simply ‘people helping people’, spending some of your time in the service of others is a deeply ingrained part of our culture. We think social action has a key role to play in augmenting public services, from community networks supporting older people to live well and peer networks for people living with long term health conditions, to young people helping their peers navigate job and training opportunities.
What did we do?
The Centre for Social Action Innovation Fund (CSAIF) was a partnership between Nesta and the Cabinet Office. From April 2013 to March 2016, we supported over 50 organisations across England to develop and grow the reach and impact of social action innovations mobilising people’s time, energy and talents to help each other, working alongside public services.
In total, we received more that 1,400 expressions of interest and we backed more than 52 innovations, investing £11.5m in grants and a further £3m in non-financial advice and support, including rigorous evaluation of the outcomes for the people helped by these innovations.
We worked with innovations in six priority areas where there was a plausible case for how social action could make a difference, and where we felt that the current solutions were underused.
Click on the priority areas below to read more about the portfolio:
We also ran two replication programmes to incentivise public services to adopt proven impact volunteering model models - Cities of Service UK and Helping in Hospitals.
One of Nesta’s current strategic priorities is citizen engagement in public services. Over the past few years we have supported innovators in this space through People Powered Health, Innovation in Giving, Creative Councils and our work on Co-production. The Centre for Social Action Innovation Fund was the largest programme to date and builds on this legacy.