Funded WorkRound 1
Latest Funding Round 1
In the first round of funding in November 2017, 17 grants totalling £740,000 were made for shared approaches to social investment market infrastructure.
Total amount requested £2.4m
Average Grant request £61K
- 62 Applications Received
- 22 were better suited to Round 2 EOI
- 40 were a strong fit with Round 1 EOI
- 18 progressed to full grant applications
Applications received outside of London
Regional representation was strong
Funded Work Round 1
Connect to Invest
City: Sheffield Grant: £50,000
Key Fund seeks to maximise the investment going into deprived communities and to support social enterprises and trading charities to create social impact. The great majority of investments are in the 20% most deprived communities, reaching over 100 organisations a year in the North of England.
Key Fund will partner with local infrastructure, intermediary organisations, Big Society Capital and other social investors to increase awareness of, and the level and quality of connection to, social investment in the rural North East, Cumbria and East Midlands. Specifically the project will carry out investor and investee interviews, run a series of engagement events, conduct training workshops for community and social enterprises, develop tools and resources for public dissemination, and recruit local champions to take part in a local knowledge exchange network.
The project aims to raise awareness, build local connections, facilitate transfer of knowledge about social investment, and develop tools and resources for local intermediaries to continue to support outreach and build the resilience of social purpose organisations. The project should translate into an increase in the number and quality of investment proposals coming from the North East, leading to improved investment rates in the area.
Social Investment Management Platform (Feasibility)
City: London Grant: £10,000
Homeless Link is the national membership network for 775 homelessness organisations, individuals and supported housing providers across England. The membership body works to make services for homeless people and people living in supported housing better and campaign to improve the policies that affect homeless people. Homeless Link has recently become a social investor via the Access Foundation Growth Fund.
Homeless Link will carry out a feasibility study to test the market for development of a management information product for social investors and develop a prospective product. Homeless Link believes that there are currently no single platform/software product to meet the need of fund managers to manage applications, assessments, decisions, due diligence, Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations, payments, repayments, credit control, monitoring and impact reporting.
The feasibility assessment will demonstrate how and whether the proposed management information software product can be of use for a range of stakeholders. The anticipated benefits include access to an excellent solution for social investors to manage their investment portfolio at a low cost; access to efficient online cloud-based tools for investees to apply for and report on their investment applications; and the possibility of better data from Growth Fund investors to increase the chance of success of social investors.
Investment Plus: Making Social Investment Go Further
City: London Grant: £59,750
Eastside Primetimers works with charities and social enterprises to provide consultancy support for CEOs and Boards who are seeking to increase the impact and effectiveness of their organisations.
Eastside Primetimers will work in partnership with Social and Sustainable Capital and the Key Fund to pilot the provision of post-investment support to 10 to 12 investee organisations. Support will be customised, co-developed and responsive to each social organisation, to be assessed using a diagnostic and rating system developed previously for Power to Change. The hypothesis is that post- (not just pre-) investment support can enhance the effectiveness of the social investment sector, improve investment outcomes, lower transaction costs, and potentially reduce investors’ risk in taking on unsecured investment.
If effective, the pilot will demonstrate a way to enhance the social investment offer so that it can better meet the needs of Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprises (VCSEs), lower transaction costs, and reduce the perceived risk of taking on unsecured social impact investments. Combining finance and support could become the de facto model of how to deliver social investment in the future.
Project: Social Equity Associates
City: Wigan Grant: £60,000
Northern Social Investment Group (NSIG) is a social enterprise consultancy consisting of a group of social entrepreneurs, business consultants and financial technicians who work together to encourage more and better social investment transactions in the North of England. NSIG works primarily with social entrepreneurs – but also with funders and policy makers to build sustainable social enterprises with appropriate social finance.
The aim of the project is to develop a network of trained “social equity partners” (SEPs) or non-executive directors to work in partnership with social enterprises that have secured investment to manage and help implement social investment. The SEPs will bring focus to social investment activity and assist with areas such as governance, financial control, management and impact measurement.
The objective of the project is to carry out a small pilot with 15 organisations to test whether professional post-investment support at the board level can make social investment more effective than short term consultancy interventions. Post-investment initiatives such as this, if effective, could work to strengthen the sector and lower the cost of lending in the future.
City: London Grant: £60,000
Finance For Sustainability functions as an incubator to create and sustain new advisory and investment companies for the social sector to address gaps in the social and environmental impact investment space.
This grant will allow Finance For Sustainability to undertake a 9-month strategic market research and business plan for Community Partners. Community Partners will be an online and physical platform to provide capacity building support to community and social enterprises. The focus is to aggregate, simplify, and improve the quality of capacity building and advisory services offered to Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprises (VCSEs). The community will enable VCSE advisors to better deliver high quality, targeted, user-friendly support. The network will work as a membership organisation for VCSE advisors, charging an annual fee and conducting a regular approval and feedback process for vetting the quality and relevance of advisor expertise.
The Community Partners network would bring significant benefits to improve the resilience and robustness of the VCSE advisory market; help grow VCSEs; and enable individual advisors to improve the quality of their offer via joined up marketing, skill development, knowledge exchange, sharing of best practice and collaborative delivery of services. Shared resources via the network can improve the sustainability of capacity building services; lower costs, improve transparency/feedback and reduce the ‘boom/bust’ reliance on subsidy for capacity building.
Social Investment Performance Data Exchange
City: London Grant: £22,000
Social Enterprise UK (SEUK) functions as the representative body and membership network for social enterprises with a mission to create a favourable environment in which social enterprises can start up, survive and thrive. SEUK also has a track record of research to build a robust evidence base to inform work on data sharing.
SEUK will carry out a 3 month feasibility study to support the work of Open Data Services in developing a data standard and process for more transparent sharing of information across social investment intermediaries. SEUK will identify participant social investment institutions, co-ordinate and convene these institutions, and act as a liaison in partnership with ODS to advance data mapping, collectively agree a data standard and advance an action plan for implementation.
The feasibility study will be key to progressing data sharing with social investment intermediaries, which has the potential to put in place important infrastructure for the market. The project should advance collaboration, set a clear direction and develop a collectively agreed plan of action. Better sharing of data will contribute to transparency and will help organisations at the wholesale, investor and investee levels to make decisions about where and how to invest, how investments perform, and when and where to allocate subsidy.
Sharing Social Investment Data
City: Manchester Grant £30,000
Open Data Services (ODS) is a values-driven worker co-operative which helps people create, publish and use open data for social impact. They provide technologies, support, and services relating to the production, standardisation and use of open data in the social sector.
The aim of this project is to push for greater openness of data in the social investment sector, with an expected public benefit from learning more about how to deploy funds effectively to communities in need. Building on a pilot with Power to Change, ODS will publish a fully documented data model, compatible with the 360Giving Data Standard, and will work with a number of social investors to publish data in this format. The project has two components: 1) Outreach and engagement of social investment intermediaries; and 2) development of a technical specification standard for data sharing.
The intent is to develop clear, commonly-agreed standards to increase data reporting, availability and transparency across the social investment market, as is currently being tested for grant-making via 360Giving. With access to improved information, Voluntary, Community, and Social Enterprises (VCSEs) should be able to benchmark the range of finance on offer to find the right funding, at the right time and the right price.
Equality Impact Investing
City: Totnes Grant: £29,525
The Dartington Hall Trust is a social justice organisation that aims to stimulate and nurture thinking and activities that support a more sustainable, connected and just world. This project brings together two key DHT elements – The School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) Dartington which delivers social enterprise support and investment and the new Centre for Social Justice Innovation (CSJI) at the Dartington Hall Trust. The common objective is to increase levels of UK social justice innovation via the tool of social investment.
The CSJI will carry out a structured research project to answer questions about social investment and equality in an evidence-based way, raise awareness and increase engagement of the social investment sector in delivering equality impact. The research will result in a report, resources and an equality impact framework tool for use by social investment funds and Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSEs). This research is the first phase of a larger programme to investigate equality impact investing as a new area of potential activity, which will see CSJI partner with the SSE at Dartington and the Equality and Diversity Forum.
As a result of the research, CSJI wants the UK social investment sector to be more aware of how its constitution, culture and investments impact on equality outcomes, and better able to ensure that this impact is positive.
Improving Social Investor Diversity & Inclusion
City: London Grant: £55,100
TSIC is a social change strategy consultancy that, among other activities, will act as the project manager for The Gathering Working Group on diversity. The Gathering Working Group is comprised of the leading social investors in the UK, with a focus to promote diverse talent recruitment and ensure that the sector is grounded in principles of inclusion, representation and justice.
Responding to a lack of diversity in the social investment sector, The Gathering Working Group have identified an opportunity to re-set the culture and narrative of social investment so that social finance does not replicate inequalities of gender, race and class evident in mainstream society. This project centres on the need to address investor diversity in order to improve decision-making, avoid group think, and to create a more inclusive sector that can better represent, understand and invest in the communities it seeks to serve. There are five key strands to the work, including strengthening the existing Steering Group; conducting original research and an E&D audit; skills development and resource sharing; data sharing and network mapping; and improving communications strategies.
The introduction of more diverse perspectives and experience to investment teams can improve decision-making, enhance relationships with investee organisations, and help to break down barriers of race, class, religion, gender or disability. The ideal outcome would be for the social investment sector to better reflect the diversity of both social sector organisations and the beneficiaries that investors seek to serve.
E3M Local Alchemy Events with Bold Commissioners
City: London Grant: £40,000
Social Business International (SBI) designs activities and programmes to support the growth of social enterprise. Its core initiative E3M is a knowledge community that supports and connects leaders from successful UK social enterprises that trade in public service markets with “Bold Commissioners” who work for public authorities and are responsible for services.
SBI propose to carry out three E3M Local Alchemy events: intensive 24 hour events that bring together social enterprise leaders, bold public commissioners, and social investors with a range of local representatives to explore new ways of providing public services. Each event involves engaging with a local authority to identify key issues or challenge areas that will be explored with the buy-in of senior leaders from local government. New business ideas could be funded by the local host, or other funders and investors that choose to participate.
The intent is to develop a bottom-up approach to generate new ideas and solutions that can help develop services which cost less and deliver better outcomes; stimulate local, inclusive, economic growth; and empower and engage local citizens in solving problems. The ultimate goal is to use a collective impact approach to develop social change initiatives that operate at scale to tackle local challenges.
Social Investment Forum: Growing and Sustaining
City: London Grant: £30,000
Social Enterprise UK (SEUK) functions as the representative body and membership network for social enterprises with a mission to create a favourable environment in which social enterprises can start up, survive and thrive.
For 5 years SEUK has chaired and co-ordinated the Social Investment Forum. The Social Investment Forum is a group of 26 social investment intermediaries which provides an existing route to achieve buy-in and collaboration on data sharing across social investment intermediaries, and can function as a peer-led forum for this work to develop. SEUK will strengthen, formalise and develop the work of the Social Investment Forum over an 18 month period in order to clarify the role and function of the network, define its priorities, and develop a sustainable business model with social investment member institutions.
SEUK anticipates that setting up a sustainable trade association will improve joint working and collaboration across the sector, leading to better outcomes for the intermediaries and investee organisations. The intent is to create a more open, accessible marketplace with clear standards and principles of operation. Improved knowledge sharing and intelligence should result in better methods to meet the financial needs of charities and social enterprises.
Amplifying the Impact of Women in Social Finance (WISF)
City: London Grant: £54,570
TSIC is a social change strategy consultancy that, among other activities, acts to administer Women in Social Finance (WISF). WISF is the only membership support network for female practitioners working across impact investing, inclusive finance, sustainable finance, and leadership in social finance. It aims to foster connection, advancement, and collaboration between experienced women in the field of social and responsible finance in the UK.
The objective of this project is to amplify the impact of WISF to better champion gender diversity in social investment in the UK. The group plans to increase their public engagement, advocacy and visibility to better influence the wider sector. The project will include a planning and strategy review; a strategy to better utilise technology and enhance the connectivity of the network; membership support and training; and collaboration with other networks, including work on a targeted outreach strategy to increase women’s leadership visibility and representation.
This project will amplify WISF’s ability to increase the representation of women in senior leadership positions in the social finance sector — as role models and important voices that are visible in the press and key industry events. Likewise, WISF can increase the support provided to members to promote their skills, confidence and to champion their ability to secure more influential positions within the sector, working towards greater gender parity. The project will also help WISF set its strategy and infrastructure, increase its reach and strengthen the community.
Pioneers Post: Social Investment Market Information
City: London Grant: £60,000
Pioneers Post is a magazine and online website that functions as the trade news source for social enterprises, responsible business and social investment. Pioneers Post aims to build the success of social business and promote shared value, social responsibility and sustainability alongside entrepreneurship.
This project will help Pioneers Post to achieve financial sustainability, expand readership, and improve and increase its editorial offering. The magazine aims to increase its coverage of social investment and deliver a series of supplements and events to support and connect social enterprises and charities to social investment.
Pioneers Post aims to increase transparency and information available on social investment. They will do this by covering more of the deals, reviewing social investors, and sharing stories and experiences of social investment. Through this content they aim to support charities and social enterprises to become better at delivering their own impact and to make well-informed decisions about securing social finance, advice and support to thrive. Pioneers Post also aims to support social investors, intermediaries and advisors to better address the needs of the market through improved products and services.
Social Investment Intelligence Network (SIIN)
City: London Grant: £33,000
Social Spider is a social enterprise which carries out research, publishing and consultancy work for a range of social sector organisations. Social Spider carries out work on social investment infrastructure as part of Flip Finance – a partnership of organisations and individuals aiming to make social investment more accessible, attuned and responsive to the needs of social enterprises and charities.
The project will pilot the Social Investment Intelligence Network (SIIN) to review the demand-side perspective of UK social entrepreneurs and charity leaders. The Network of 10-12 social entrepreneurs will meet on a quarterly basis to review the social investment market, current demand, and consideration of what activities or initiatives are currently relevant to social enterprises, charities and other social sector organisations. The initial phase of this project will focus on publicising and recruiting diverse representatives from across the social enterprise and charity sector. The SIIN will also partner with Alliance for Social Innovation in Finance to provide intelligence on demand for investment from charities and social enterprises.
The SIIN should lead to better and more up-to-date understanding of demand for finance from charities and social enterprises, which can be used to spur innovation, adapt current models of investment provision, and engage a wider range financial innovators to meet needs appropriately. The SIIN can become a trusted resource for the UK social investment sector and give voice to the financial and operational realities facing the demand-side.
Community Shares E-course
City: Brighton Grant: £25,000
The Community Shares Company (TCSC) provides specialist advisory services to community groups seeking to raise capital through community share offerings. TCSC has helped more than 25 groups raise over £5.5m in the last 4 years.
TCSC will develop online e-learning courses to build the knowledge and skills of communities to carry out community share offerings. The project is designed with volunteer community members in mind, providing readily accessible information, available 24 hours/day, to multiple group members in remote locations. The programme provides access to peer support, and creates a learning forum, with periodic access to expert advisors to give groups confidence in the decisions they are making.
The project will provide community groups with cost effective, up to date expert advice about community shares, giving a greater chance of success in the fund raising and transfer of assets to community ownership. Ideally this will grow the market and better disseminate knowledge about community shares, allowing expansion of this positive form of social finance. Delivering content via online classrooms should open up the potential of share issues to a younger, more economically and ethnically diverse generation of community activists.
Growing our Potential: Developing Leadership
City: London Grant: £60,291
Responsible Finance (Formerly Community Development Finance Association) acts as an industry network for over 56 funds, ethical banks, social lenders and other providers of fair, affordable finance to small businesses, social enterprises and consumers across the UK.
The Growing our Potential project will build on existing initiatives and learning to create a comprehensive, formal leadership development programme for the responsible finance and wider social investment sector. The programme will address the challenges of recruiting, retaining and developing talent in the sector. The skill development programme will engage in two activity strands: 1) A 1-year online leadership development course for current and aspiring leaders, with quarterly in-person 1 day workshops. 2) A 2-day in-person induction course for new board directors and trustees, covering the legal obligations for governance roles.
The objective of the project is to promote diversity, robust governance and financial management, consistency in skills and qualifications, and improved knowledge sharing and collaboration.
Standards and Templates
Establishing a Community Shares Standard Board (CSSB)
City: Manchester Grant: £60,000
Co-operatives UK is the membership body for thousands of co-ops in Britain, working to promote, develop and unite member-owned businesses that form part of the co-operative economy. Co-operatives UK acts as the voice for the sector to promote co-operatives through policy and public campaigns.
Co-operatives UK, Locality and Baker Brown Associates proposes the creation of the Community Shares Standards Board (CSSB) as a successor body to the Community Shares Unit’s work in the development of good practice standards and voluntary regulation for community share offers. This “Mobilisation Phase” of the CSSB focuses on establishing the CSSB as the UK recognised certification body that sets and maintains public financial promotions standards for societies and community groups. This will carry on with the work of the Community Shares Unit to establish a sustainable model that will ensure the long term viability of good practice standards, as an independent standards body.
The purpose of the CSSB will be to promote, for the benefit of the public, high standards of ethical conduct and good practice by societies and community groups engaged in public offers of community investment.