This article reviews social participation outcomes identified in discrete studies of flexible funding programmes across four countries. The outcomes of an Australian flexible funding support programme were studied in 2007; a study tour of independent living programmes was conducted in England and Scotland during 2005; Swedish co-operatives and government administrators providing personal assistance to live independently were visited in 2006 and Australian independent living support groups operating for over 20 years were visited in 2008. Fifty-six interviews were conducted with people with a disability, families, support services, government administrators and researchers. A structured interview schedule was used in the 2007 Australian study and a semi-structured format was used in all other studies. Notes from the interviews were reviewed for themes related to social participation and their contributing factors. Ecological systems theory was used to identify what factors from the micro to the macro system level facilitated or hindered social participation. The key finding is that flexible funding did result in a range of social participation activities in each setting studied. The studies also indicate that social participation increases when people have access to information and support services; can choose their individual workers and move to a new agency if need be; and have adequate resources to meet their needs. The cultural and political context plays a large part in determining these factors. The implications of this study are that adequate resources are needed and the complex systems impacting on flexible funding need to be understood to achieve the intended outcomes.