A study by the Boston Consulting Group finds that Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programs generate an average social return on investment or SROI of $18 for every dollar invested.”

The research compared the life outcomes of 500 former Little Brothers and Little Sisters in Canada with a control group of individuals from similar family and economic backgrounds who did not have a Big Brother or Big Sister to mentor them as children. The study found that, over their working lives, the former “Littles” will earn on average $315,000 more than those in the control group.

Four categories of differential  life outcomes were examined: employment, philanthropy, life skills and general well-being. Participants in Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) mentoring programs were also significantly more likely to give generously to charitable causes and volunteer their time to community work. They also achieved more positive life outcomes in the categories of life skills and personal well-being.

“The BBBS Social Return on Investment Study was designed to audit the financial return to society from Big Brothers Big Sisters,” said James Tucker,  a partner in Toronto at BCG, who led the research project. “We found tremendous financial value generated through higher taxes and higher spending due to increased income and increased charitable donations in time and money. Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programs generate an average social return on investment or SROI of $18 for every dollar invested.”

For the most economically disadvantaged participants in BBBS mentoring programs the impact is even higher with an average, SROI of $23 for each dollar invested.

Each former Little Brother and Little Sister involved in the research project is on track to generate an average of $32,154 in additional tax revenue; $49,819 in increased consumption; $5,856 in additional charitable volunteering and $890 in greater charitable giving. The average investment required to mentor a Little Brother or Little Sister over the average duration of a Big/Little match is $5,059.

Key findings

  • 68 per cent reported being employed full time, compared to 58 per cent among those in the control group. The BBBS participants were also significantly more likely to have higher full-time salaries (average: $59,600 versus $52,700)
  • 66 per cent self-reported volunteering for community service versus 43 per cent among those in the control group. The BBBS participants reported an average of 95 hours of community service per year compared to 73 hours
  • Almost eight-in-ten BBBS participants (77 per cent) self-reported they donate to charities compared to 67 per cent among those in the control group