Grants

Latest Funding

The Connect Fund hold two large rounds of funding in 2017 and 2018. The first round supported shared initiatives to address gaps in social investment market infrastructure, while the second round supported voluntary sector infrastructure, community foundations and membership bodies to enable them to develop shared approaches to engage with social investment.

Total amount awarded on Round 1 £749,425

Total amount awarded on Round 2 £1,241,710

  • 62 Applications Received on Round 1
  • 17 grants awarded on Round 1
  • 85 applications received on round 2
  • 29 grants awarded on Round 2

Regional Spread of Grants

Round 1

%

Grants awarded outside of London

Round 2

%

Grants awarded outside of London

Grants Awarded

Business Development

Business Development

Project: Fastfeedbk Feasibility Study

Grant: £10,000

The Good Economy Partnership Limited (TGE) is a small social advisory firm that provides impact advisory services to specialist impact investors, private equity firms, businesses and mainstream asset managers. It has a strong track record in impact investment strategy and fund design; impact measurement and management; and impact assessments.

The project aims to carry out a feasibility study on the “Fastfeedbk” service to integrate stakeholder voice and lived experience into UK impact management strategies. By working with intermediaries and their investees to help them collect low-cost outcomes data, TGE hopes to improve impact measurement so that it can help VCSEs better understand how their products and services are used and are useful; to determine the material effect these products, services and practices have on beneficiaries’ lives.

Fastfeedbk uses mobile phone and web-based technology to reduce the costs and increase the speed of being able to capture and demonstrate impact. It is a web-based impact measurement and management platform that allows social purpose organisations to collect feedback from stakeholders on the outcomes they experience. Fastfeedbk is centred on the end-user and based on the belief that the best way to determine impact is to listen to those affected. The aim is to place stakeholder voice at the centre of impact measurement.

The aim of the feasibility study is to determine the business proposition for the Fastfeedbk platform, and to generate ‘proof of concept’ by applying the underlying framework in two UK sectors: affordable housing and financial inclusion. As part of the feasibility study TGE will explore how aggregated outcomes data can be rolled up and shared to feed into planned data hubs such as those being developed by the Social Economy Data Lab (Social Investment Business) and Sumerian Partners.

Project: Demand led B2B social investment fund feasibility study

Grant: £10,000

Social Enterprise UK (SEUK) supports social enterprises to create a fairer economy and a more equal society. The work of the organisation includes research, campaigns, and lobbying to build markets for social enterprises, celebrate place-based approaches to social innovation, and champion the Social Value Act, which requires public bodies to consider choosing providers on the basis of social value creation. One of its flagship initiatives is the Buy Social Corporate Challenge, which encourages the UK’s largest corporate businesses to use their procurement power to spend £1 billion with social enterprises. SEUK have been working for the past six years on developing and promoting access to corporate supply chains for social enterprises. The project aims to explore the feasibility of creating a business-to-business (B2B) social investment fund based on insight from the Buy Social Corporate Challenge.

This project will explore the feasibility of developing a fund to support social enterprises to maximise the opportunity of B2B markets, working with corporate buyers to ensure the initiative is demand-led. SEUK believes that corporate supply chains represent the biggest opportunity for growth of social enterprise markets. Funded by Access, SEUK has analysed data from 6 corporate partners in the Buy Social Corporate Challenge to identify product categories that present an opportunity for social enterprises to expand to meet procurement needs. The result was 25 product categories – shortlisted from a total of 700 – that represent market opportunities. Based on these categories, SEUK has commitment from corporates to support social enterprises through the tender process to win and develop within procurement category areas. What is now required is the capital to support growth within one of the three mechanisms:

  1. Entrepreneurial growth – Working with existing social enterprises to rapidly grow within identified category areas.
  2. Pivoting – Large existing social enterprises that may currently be principally public sector funded seeing the opportunity in one of the identified category areas to develop a new revenue stream.
  3. Mergers & Acquisition (M&A) – Private businesses working in the identified category areas being bought/acquired by social sector organisations.

SEUK will use the feasibility study to assess the degree of social investors’ interest to support the development and scaling of social enterprises in this way. The key output from the feasibility phase will be a clear business plan of what is required to bring it to fruition.

SEUK believes that the fund will be of benefit to social enterprises looking to work in B2B markets. It will benefit them through the direct enterprise opportunities the fund will create and by promoting procurement opportunity areas more broadly. The fund will take a market-led approach to develop social investment propositions, which is distinct from the current ad hoc investment approach, and could be further expanded to B2C market development.

Project: A social investment “Demonstration Fund” for Birmingham

Grant: £25,000

The project aims to develop a blended finance fund for organisations tackling health inequalities and complex wellbeing issues in Birmingham. The Royal Society for Public Health (RPSH) has committed to spur innovation and social change over the next 2 years by entering into the space of social investment and develop a localised blended finance fund that will support social organisations delivering in the health sector. This will provide organisations the chance to scale and extend their reach within their localities. To achieve this RSPH will engage a wide range of partners and form a learning network to advance practical plans to create the demonstration fund. The targeted social organisations will be those that have made an impact on complex wellbeing issues and health inequalities but have restricted growth potential because of a lack of affordable finance, access to investment readiness support and understanding of growth finance options. Main focus will be on small to medium voluntary organisations and social enterprises who (typically) need between £30,000 and £50,000 in growth investment to release that potential and be positioned to win larger contracts, scale their innovative approach and possibly seek further social investment from larger loan providers at a next stage.

The focus of the Connect Fund contribution to the project will be to facilitate a partnership approach to learning and sharing of knowledge on blended finance across the sector. CF has acted to broker connections to the Healthy London Partnership which is taking a similar approach to develop a “Healthy London Fund” with Public Health England, the NHS and the Mayor of London. The learning from this initiative can be fed into the RSPH project. Our support will allow RSPH to leapfrog development of the fund by learning from this and other similar initiatives. The intent is for RSPH to learn from, and share learning with, the wider sector about how a blended finance demonstration fund can be created.

The project aims to identify the elements of a successful blended funding model, and to highlight what tailored risk finance for impact will look like so that the learning can be shared with other localities and regions. RSPH will be able to illustrate a co-designed support offer so that others might see if this kind of support is suitable in their circumstances. Six organisations will receive tailored financial support enabling them to increase their impact across their locality. There will also be a social investment network which could continue post-project funding. Finally, a localised social investment toolkit will be made available across the community and voluntary sector and a learning network established.

Project: 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.

Project: 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.

Project: The Big Issue Invest Innovation Engine

Grant: £10,000

Big Issue Invest (BII) will work with an external consultant, seconded from Big Society Capital (BSC), to develop and implement a robust product development innovation process. BII is at a turning point to consider a range of demand-driven product innovations and new product development is the key focus of the organisation over the next 18 months.

Once the current larger investment funds are fully committed, BII will need to raise new funds to continue to meet demand. BII would like to develop and codify a process for product innovation that will better take into account the insight from end-user beneficiaries, staff and investee organisations. This product innovation engine will be a template that can be embedded in BII and generate new ideas for business development, but also a template for product innovation to be shared more widely with the sector as best practice to drive further innovation.

A detailed process has been proposed for product development. This involves three phases of: 1) mapping market opportunities, 2) co-designing product development solutions, and 3) testing and formalising a design process, which can be standardised for future replication.

The idea for the innovation engine is to create a sustainable way for BII to design and deliver investible products that will benefit the market. Charities and social enterprises will benefit from properly designed and tested social finance products that better meet their needs, with support from BII. These social purpose organisations will benefit from better resourced, financially resilient and more sustainable services. BII has a pipeline of potential projects to take through this process, which should result in tangible new products for the market.

Project: Social Investment for Social Businesses
Grant: £59,100

The project will address a significant gap in the East Midlands for voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations (VCSEs) seeking to build financial resilience and move towards social investment. This project will deliver a package of support that includes awareness raising events, investment readiness workshops, network-building, and webinars alongside in-depth capacity building.

The proposal is to establish a range of advisory services to lay the foundations for an ongoing social investment brokerage service across the East Midlands. 1) Awareness – CASE plans to establish a number of awareness-raising activities to promote and support social investment. 2) Let’s Talk Finance – CASE plans to launch the project with 5 Let’s Talk Finance events run jointly with Big Society Capital and the local infrastructure bodies, including VAL. 3) Workshops – CASE will hold 10 themed investment readiness workshops, which will bring groups together by sector to collaborate on the development of market opportunities. 4) Training – CASE will offer a further 5 webinars and workshops on the most in-demand skills, such as financial modelling, cash flow and social impact. 5) Capacity Building – 15 VCSEs with ‘good ideas’ will be identified for one-to-one bespoke consultancy support and advice to bring their ideas to market. This will be followed by further in-depth support to 5 community businesses, supported in part with funding secured from Power to Change. 6) Brokering – An ongoing activity for CASE will be to connect VCSEs in the region to established social investors, existing resources and programmes and broker introductions to social investment intermediaries.

CASE expects that more VCSEs in the East Midlands will have access to information on social investment; understand how to apply for and use social investment; make use of the enterprise development support available in the region; successfully secure social finance; and be aware of the different repayable finance options available to them. It also expects that social investment intermediaries will improve their reach into regional markets.

Project: 2020 South West Social Invest
Grant: £59,120

Voscur will work in partnership with BBRC to provide business planning and enterprise development support. Organisations will initially complete a diagnostic test to assess the income potential of their assets followed by capacity building workshops to support them to articulate their social impact. One-to-one support will enable the development of business plans and move them closer to an investment-ready stage, allowing them to be passed on to BBRC for further business plan development and investment brokerage support.

Voscur and BBRC’s overall project plan is divided into five phases. Voscur will lead on the first phase (outreach and engagement) and second phase (capacity building), jointly deliver the third phase with Quartet, and provide additional support in the final two phases. Voscur’s support will include a mixture of capacity building activities delivered to the whole cohort, and more specific one-to-one support as the organisations begin to develop their proposals further. Quartet will be brought in to provide additional technical and market liability support in phase three.

The overall aim is to give VCSEs a better understanding of the potential of using assets to generate an alternative income source, enabling them to become sustainable in the long-term. Voscur and BBRC expect to deliver a replicable model of support and enterprise development for organisations managing community assets and address the cultural barriers to social investment within Boards by appropriately discussing risk. The projects will also demonstrate the added value of collaboration and peer support in developing investment readiness alongside the provision of specialist expertise and capacity, resulting in a number of VCSEs that have been through the investment journey and are primed for sharing their experience to support others.

Project: Gateway to Social Investment Project
Grant: £60,000

BBRC will work in partnership with Voscur to help groups produce strong, sustainable proposals suitable for social investment. BBRC will support organisations with a viable business model to become investment ready and broker relationships with potential investors.

BBRC’s and Voscur’s overall project plan is divided into five phases. BBRC will lead on the fourth phase (investment readiness) and fifth phase (due diligence), providing additional support in the first three phases. BBRC will engage with organisations to build their knowledge of the market, finalise their business plans and prepare for broker investment options. Following this, some organisations will begin the due diligence process for social investment.

The overall aim is to give VCSEs a better understanding of the potential of using assets to generate an alternative income source, enabling them to become sustainable. Voscur and BBRC expect to deliver a replicable model of support and enterprise development for organisations managing community assets and address the cultural barriers to social investment within Boards by appropriately discussing risk. The projects will also demonstrate the added value of collaboration and peer support in developing investment readiness alongside the provision of specialist expertise and capacity, resulting in a number of VCSEs that have been through the investment journey and are primed for sharing their experience to support others.

Project: Investing in Social Enterprise
Grant: £43,200

This project focus is on capacity building to provide technical skills and support to VCSE organisations in Wolverhampton to be investment ready to deliver public sector and other contracts. WVSC will work in partnership and share information on its project with Birmingham Voluntary Service Council (BVSC).

The project will employ a part-time Social Enterprise and Investment Adviser to work alongside a consultant delivering technical support. The Adviser will increase awareness of social investment through the WVSC website, creating specific pages for this activity, social media, mailings and networking meetings. Interested groups will then attend social investment events, seek investment readiness consultancy support, one-to-one and peer support. VCSEs already delivering public service and other contracts will be recruited to provide peer support to new participants. Bursaries will be made available to VCSEs that require additional consultancy to develop new revenue streams or build capacity in relation to social investment and to VCSEs that commit to delivering peer support to newer entrants to social investment. WVSC will refer and support VCSEs applying to social investment intermediaries. WVSC will also develop a social investment resource pack, drawing together existing available resources, and develop links to social investors to enable collaboration and information exchange.

WVSC will further develop its expertise in relation to social investment and it will share its knowledge and practical experience of engaging more directly with social investment with BVSC. Many of the organisations will be involved in consortia across the Black Country and will develop skills and knowledge to harness that track record to secure social investment to grow their activities and bid for public sector and other contracts. Social investors will have access to a larger pool of investment opportunities and the resource pack will be available to groups beyond this grant.

Project: Sefton Social Investment Development Project
Grant: £51,500

Sefton Council for Voluntary Service will explore and test local social investment models that increase community resilience through prevention and early intervention. It will help to develop the Sefton Social Investment Development Partnership (SSIDP), a collaboration between Sefton CVS, Capacity: the Public Services Lab, Sefton Council and the Social Stock Exchange, to develop “new ways of working and new models of finance”. Other SSIDP focused activities will include: building the interest and engagement of social investors in the challenges and opportunities in Sefton; work with the Community Foundation for Merseyside to encourage new entrants (investors and investees) into the social investment market; develop social market potential by mapping potential investment opportunities; bring networks together to consider and respond to potential opportunities.

Sefton CVS also plans to identify ten groups with growth potential for which it will provide intensive capacity building support. The expectation is that this will give rise to five proposals that are feasible for social investment. It will also: develop information and training packages; create a forum for under-represented groups; integrate social investment into its standard support package; and hold social investment workshops for commissioners. It will also establish a local social investment forum of commissioners, providers, communities and investors to collaborate on better solutions for local people. The Merseyside Funding Information Portal, which currently provides grant and contract information and resources, will be updated to provide similar information about social investment.

Sefton CVS expects the project will lead to a more accessible, mission driven, social investment market; lower social investment transaction costs; a more resilient VCSFE sector; wider access to social investment; an increased number of social businesses; a greater number of joint ventures; and a more informed social investment market.

Project: Knowledge and skills for social investment and enterprise
Grant: £61,000

The project aims to connect the community enterprise sector with knowledge, skills and confidence to seek social investment. The project will provide a framework, resources and a website platform for community organisations to collaborate with peers so that they can take the next step towards seeking social investment. In Spring 2018, Locality will launch a new website to facilitate peer connections and collaboration, and a diagnostic tool, Lighthouse, an online resource that allows community organisations to identify organisational strengths and weaknesses. Locality will supplement this website with practical resources that are collaboratively produced by community organisations and social investors. A key element of the project is the peer to peer engagement to showcase exemplar community enterprises that have made use of social investment or new revenue streams through enterprise. Key areas for knowledge and skill development in relation to social investment will include financial modelling and resilience, investment structuring, business planning and ownership of land and buildings.

The overall aim is to raise the confidence and capacity of community organisations to develop financial strength and resilience, at scale. Locality expects to increase the knowledge and skills of community organisations to seek social investment through practical support and better understanding of organisational strengths and weaknesses.

Project: Supporting Social Investment in Suffolk
Grant: £60,000

Community Action Suffolk (CAS) aims to increase the number of organisations in Suffolk receiving social investment. To do this, the project will work with both sides of the social investment market: to provide diagnostic and investment-readiness support for potential investees, and to extend the range of social investment offerings in Suffolk.

The project will be delivered by CAS, in partnership with a number of local organisations and agencies, and the main part of the grant will be used to fund a new post of Social Investment Officer who will coordinate the work and, importantly, act as a bridge to match needs of VCSE organisations with the development of social investment models and offers. Activities will include mapping current social investment opportunities and, on the investee side, consultation and analysis of need, delivering awareness raising and investment readiness training to local and establishing peer support networks.

On the investor side, the project will include exploring how needs can be met through different social investment products with the aim of developing a “step up fund” and/or blended finance.  Finally, the partnership will produce a Suffolk VCSE Social Finance Strategy, which will form part of the County Council’s overall Finance Strategy. With this project CAS expects that the understanding of impact measurement will be improved both for investors and investees, and the social investment landscape in Suffolk will be larger and better understood, with an increased amount of social investment coming into the county.

Project: Gearing Up!
Grant: £39,000

 

CERT aims to address VCSE risk aversion and concerns in relation to social investment, through structured peer visits and masterclasses. It will deliver a one-year modular programme that participants can complete in full or in part, to raise awareness, build capacity and assist enterprise development. The programme will consist of structured visits by VCSEs to exemplar peers that have successfully taken on social investment, created trading arms, won public sector contracts or built sustainable income streams and a complementary series of master class workshops that examine some of the key themes in more detail. Key Fund will provide specialist input into the design and will be available at each workshop.

CERT will require the participation of Trustees as well as members of executive teams to ensure strategic understanding and commitment to any investment propositions developed through the programme. Participants will be offered support to develop their propositions and Key Fund will act as an investment broker, where it is unable to provide social investment itself. The aim is to connect potential investees to an investor at an early stage of development and as a result, ensure high-quality applications based on sound planning and realistic market research.

The project expects that participants will gain the confidence and ambition to consider social investment by equipping them with the skills to assess and manage the risks so that they are in a better position to take on social finance.

Project: Building Community Assets
Grant: £42,000 

Wessex Community Assets (WCA) is a company limited by guarantee, incorporated and registered as a Co-operative and Community Benefit Society. It is regulated by to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). It was formed in 2004 as part of the Wessex Reinvestment Trust (WRT) (2001) group of companies. It operates solely in Devon, Dorset and Somerset to encourage and develop community owned assets. The directors are all practitioners with experience of creating community businesses that address local needs.

The project will seek to increase the range of finance available to community enterprises to include: community share offers; support for community enterprises struggling to be investment ready and experiencing difficulties finding and commissioning appropriate professional services and advisers; The aim is to address the need for local technical support and learning opportunities for volunteer-led organisations and to create networks across the sub-region to address project isolation and skills development.

Community enterprises will be drawn from local themes of food/retail and food distribution, workspace, community housing, community energy and woodlands. Mentors will be recruited from community projects that have previously been supported, to form a peer-to-peer network of capacity building support. The project will employ a co-ordinator and a web-designer

Project: The Communities of Practice Project
Grant: £54,000 

Liverpool Charity and Voluntary Services (LCVS) is a registered charity that seeks to improve the well-being of individuals and communities in Liverpool through supporting and encouraging charitable giving and voluntary action. LCVS provides support, advice, training, networking and representation for individuals and charitable organisations across the City region. It also claims to have helped donors distribute over £4 million every year to charitable organisations. The organisation’s main focus is on health, education, income stability and culture, which it considers the cornerstones to the well-being of individuals and stronger communities. The aim of the project is to help VCSE organisations in the North West explore how social investment might help them meet their objectives by supporting business development, increased social impact and sustainability. The project will use established Community of Practice (CoP) learning partnerships of local VCSEs to explore issues identified by recent LCVS research. They will consider income generation ideas and how social finance could help organisations to achieve greater financial resilience. The sessions will also address gaps in information, skills or experience that organisations face in developing enterprise-based services as well as potential capacity building obstacles such as legal models for delivery, charging policies and evaluation.

Project: 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.

Project: Community Partners 
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.

 

Data Sharing

Data Sharing

Project: Social Investment Data Hub and Exchange

Grant: £30,000

Social Investment Business (SIB) has taken on the open data standard project and will function as the institutional home to continue to develop and promote a collaborative approach to data capture, analysis and management across the social investment market. The project aims to further develop the Social Investment Data Hub and Exchange as a collaborative venture for the social investment sector.

SIB has championed the use of the social investment data specification developed by Open Data Services (ODS) in partnership with Key Fund, the Community Shares Unit, as supported by a previous Connect Fund grant to ODS. The data specification is an open one, and SIB will work to encourage other social investors to align with the standard and create a data set for social investment that allows comparison across funds, to better promote learning and impact management. The objective is ultimately to achieve a 360Giving for social investment that will improve transparency and market information.

SIB is already working with a core group of social investors that includes the Community Shares Unit, Key Fund, Social and Sustainable Capital (SASC), Big Issue Invest (BII), Sumerian Partners and Nesta. SIB intend to use the Connect Fund grant to expand this group further and seed a strong collaborative governance committee to oversee collective data management in the future.

The project works on the basis that the more social investment intermediaries use the data standard, the better it will be. The grant will also allow SIB to explore the final form that the hub and exchange will take. SIB will work to secure a collective commitment to data use and the development of reliable intelligence that can inform all social investors and improve deployment of finance to serve the social economy. SIB will explore a joint approach to secure ongoing commitment to comparative data use by with social investment intermediaries, ultimately in order to adopt best practice data governance for collective data stores.

The project will have succeeded if SIB develops a strong group of social investment intermediaries committed to best practice data collection, use and governance, with an agreed formal process for coordinating, managing and publishing data on impact. SIB expects to develop a plan for incorporation of an appropriate independent entity to take on the governance role formally in 2020.

SIB will encourage the sector to adopt a pragmatic data standard, linked to a simple and usable impact survey, that will jointly produce reliable and comparative data on social investment to a level of detail that has not previously been achieved. SIB also intends to develop an approach to the joint management of that data that establishes ground-breaking data governance for the sector, safeguarding the rights of data subjects, and generating an active culture of shared data use and learning.

Project: 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.

Project: 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.

Data Sharing

Diversity

Project: Social Investment Connect
Grant: £59,900 

Black South West Network (BSWN) is a registered charity and company limited by guarantee registered in 2008. Based in Bristol, it exists to support and promote BAME not for profit organisations across the whole of the South West. It leads on race equality research, acting as the policy voice and brokering relationships with statutory and private organisations with members and non-members. It is the last remaining BAME regional infrastructure organisation.

The project will provide BAME VCSEs across the South West with information and support on social investment; identify investment ready organisations and link these enterprises to funders. BSWN will carry out research to map the South West BAME social enterprise sector, working with School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE Dartington Hall), which was a partner in the equality impact investing work funded by the Connect Fund. This will identify the particular barriers BAME organisations face and will provide information and guidance to funders to improve their funding to BAME social enterprises.

BSWN will undertake a diagnostic process to identify organisations that are investment ready and broker social enterprise mentors to work with them. The project expects to see a step change in BAME social enterprises being interested in social finance, more being investment ready and successful.

Project: Sustainable LGBT Futures
Grant: £50,000

The project aims to train LGBT Consortium staff to build knowledge in social investment finance and support VCSE members to achieve social investment. The project will listen to members and learn what the specific issues are that prevent them from accessing social investment finance. The learning will be translated to an LGBT Investment Strategy and LGBT Consortium will create LGBT social investment networks, offer brokerage between potential LGBT investors and members, training and online resources, and consider establishing itself as a social investment intermediary.

Resources will be made LGBT-friendly and published for the sector along with examples of how other equality sector organisations have used repayable finance. Social finance and investment will be seen as an integral part of a sustainable funding mix by different types of LGBT organisations.  Key outcomes of the project are expected to be: connections will be made to investors and funders; the wider social investment market better understands LGBT, creating diversity and innovation and; LGBT organisations are confident when accessing specialist advice around social investment.

Project: 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.

Project: Disabled People’s Organisations and Social Investment
Grant: £60,000

The project aims to research and explore practical means through which user-led organisations (ULOs) can better engage with social investment, and to develop Disability Rights UK (DRUK) as a social investment broker. DRUK will gather evidence from ULOs to determine their levels of awareness, perceptions and experience with social investment and identify clusters of organisations that are likely to find social investment useful and appropriate. DRUK also want to scope and segment ULOs to understand how they could better advise, serve and broker social investment for their member base via improved relationships with social investment intermediaries. An element of the project involves determining barriers to and opportunities for social investment, both in terms of making it more accessible and inclusive, and identifying new product development recommendations that better recognise equality and diversity.

DRUK would like to become the ‘go to’ organisation to support ULOs with social investment advice and guidance; to be positioned as the ‘voice’ of the disability sector to work with social investment intermediaries to improve and expand their offer; to shift the culture and awareness of key players in the social investment sector to make current and future social investment products and information more inclusive and accessible; and to improve engagement of the segments of ULOs most likely to benefit from social investment.

Project: Connecting BME Entrepreneurs to Social Investment
Grant: £24,300

The project will deliver an action learning study that will explore the social investment support requirements of black, minority and ethnic (BME) VCSE groups. The intention is to recruit 20 BME social entrepreneurs with a range of experiences, where each participant will be interviewed (one-to-one and in focus groups) by the research team to establish their experience of social investment and associated support offers, the barriers they encountered and what may need to change in order for them to realise their objectives. During the initial phase of the project the research team will also map the availability and accessibility of specialist BME support services. Participants will then be supported through a range of ‘quick win’ developmental interventions, such as peer support, mentoring, shadowing, introductions to skill advisers and support with applications, each aimed at improving their investment readiness.

Intelligence will be fed into the newly-created Social Investment Intelligence Network (SIIN), which the Connect Fund also supports. A special Greater Manchester BME network event will be held to showcase the findings from the project. The project expects that BME VCSE organisations will be more aware of specialist support and social investment opportunities in Greater Manchester; that other under-represented groups interested in social investment and /or ethical trading will have a forum to raise access issues. The final report will provide the evidence necessary to attract social investment and will inform Greater Manchester’s Social Enterprise Strategy. It will also provide support bodies and social investors with a body of research to help them design products and services that address the needs of BME VCSE organisations.

Project: Connecting GM BME Entrepreneurs to Social Investment Part 2

Grant: £30,000

The project aims to establish a Greater Manchester BME social enterprise network (GMBME SEN) to better connect BME organisations to social investment support and advice.

The findings from GMCVO’s initial Connect Fund project demonstrated that BME charities and social enterprises are less well connected and resourced than the social enterprise sector as a whole; making it more difficult for them to know where to go to for information and support to help them access social finance. There is also a lack of opportunities for peers to connect and receive more tailored advice or training.

GMCVO found there is appetite from BME social enterprises at various stages of development to engage within a network structure and work collectively in order to improve access to finance. Using the contacts and learning from the already established networks hosted by GMCVO, it is looking to develop a BME specific social enterprise network. This will provide an avenue to engage BME social enterprises with the idea of alternative revenue models, signpost to available support and communicate information in a way that is relevant and inspiring to the sector. The project will recruit a part-time Communications Officer (CO), ideally from within the BME network, to convene and facilitate network activities.

The establishment of the new network will strengthen connections within the social enterprise sector in GM and provide an opportunity to link BME enterprises to peer and professional support, to help them test ideas to make their organisations more resilient. This in turn will benefit GMCVO and other investors by increasing the pipeline for social investment in the region. This project will increase reach to BME enterprises through a growing and largely sustainable communication network, and create access to skill development opportunities and social investment.

Diversity, Funded projects, Grants

Project: On An Equal Footing – Social Investment for All
Grant: £34,700 

Lincolnshire Community Foundation (LCF) is a registered charity and community foundation that uses its influence and resources to mobilise local communities at all levels, from setting up a self-help group to building and developing successful social enterprises. LCF has access to a large number of donors, philanthropists and grant makers, who may provide cornerstone investment in social investment opportunities. LCF is building the foundation into a local access point for organisations seeking information and support on social investment.

The project will support women and women-led organisations within the community sector to access social investment opportunities, build exciting, innovative projects, and deliver outcomes for people that will generate social benefits. As part of the Access Reach Fund, LCF is working with around 20 social enterprises in its immediate pipeline, 70% of which are women-led. LCF will provide dedicated support to allow these enterprises to access social investment on an equal footing, and to empower them to take their ideas forward in a male dominated marketplace.

LCF is part of the UK Community Foundations pilot to explore how local philanthropic capital could be used to stimulate social enterprise.

Project: Diversity Forum – embedding and expanding

Grant: £29,000

This project aims to carry on the work of the Diversity Forum (DF) to address the lack of diversity within social investment intermediaries. In this second phase of the project, Social Investment Business (SIB) will host the DF initiative and champion the need for greater diversity in the sector. The objective of the DF is make social investment intermediaries better reflect and represent the people and communities they are set up to serve.

As part of the previous phase of the project, supported by the Connect Fund, the DF worked with Inclusive Boards. This research found that: 1) BAME women are the least likely to hold directorships in social investment (just 2.8%); 2) There is a significant socio-economic challenge for social investment: 18% of Board Directors went to Cambridge or Oxford; 40% of Directors and 33% of executives went to fee-paying schools; 3) male executives outnumber female executives in social investment by 3:2; 4) female directors and executives are more likely to come from the charity sector, rather than the financial sector.

The DF has also brought individual organisational barriers to the surface: leadership programmes which are not inclusive; undeveloped career progression work; lack of information and awareness about diversity; lack of training for teams and boards on equality, diversity and inclusion; and practical challenges relating to recruitment.

SIB will employ a full-time co-ordinator for the DF to build on the foundations and activities of this network. There is the scope for the DF to be more ambitious to amplify communications and influencing; convene and co-ordinate with other diversity projects; grow the Diversity Champions Network; and develop practical routes to progress diversity and inclusion in the sector. In terms of outputs the DF will convene: 3-4 meetings of the Diversity Champions Network; 3-4 Steering Group meetings; and 3 meetings of the HR Network.

If the DF is effective, social investment intermediaries will become more open and inclusive of individuals from different gender, class, ethnicity, age and educational backgrounds. Social investment intermediaries will have access to a wider pool of talent, a greater range of perspectives, and diversity to strengthen their teams and boards, ensuring that institutions are more reflective of and accountable to the communities they are set up to serve. As a result, we can expect social investment products and programmes to be more informed by a wide range of perspectives, more accessible, and well-designed to suit the needs of charities and social enterprises and their beneficiaries.

Diversity, Funded projects, Grants

Project: Equality Impact Investing Project

Grant: £30,000

This project aims to advance and extend the work of the Equality Impact Investing Project (EIIP). The EIIP aims to increase the positive equality impact of social investment. Over the last 18 months the project has codified, defined standards for, and pioneered the new field of equality impact investing (EII). EIIP has built the evidence base, relationships and working foundations for a range of projects and activities, to now grow and embed this field in UK social investment.

The EIIP project is a collaborative initiative that brings together equality and social impact investment actors. The first phase of the project, funded by the Connect Fund, engaged in research, dialogue and development with these sectors to scope and deliver a report. The report defined EII, assessed the extent of its use in the UK, set out recommendations to build the EII market.

The next phase of the EIIP will focus on three priorities: 1. Promoting EII report recommendations and embedding the learning; 2. Supporting delivery of priority and short term recommendations; 3. Reviewing and strengthening EIIP’s own status, governance and business model to ensure they are fit for purpose and sustainable.

The project will enhance awareness, understanding and engagement with the findings and recommendations of the EII report by a wider range of UK social investment and equality stakeholders. There will be increased co-ordination and collaboration within and across the respective social investment and equalities sectors in advancing EII. EIIP should also increase the capacity of policy-makers, market-builders and investors to adopt EII strategies and initiatives. Ultimately the EIIP seeks a strengthened and sustainable initiative capable of supporting and embedding of EII in social impact investment.

Diversity, Funded projects, Grants

Project: 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.

Project: Making the Case for End User Voice in Social Investment

Grant: £6,000

The Young Foundation’s (TYF) mission is to develop better connected and more sustainable communities across the UK. TYF has been instrumental in driving thinking, action and change in social innovation in the UK and abroad. This project aims to engage end user beneficiary perspectives in social investment.

There is an interest to bring the voices, perspectives and experiences of end users and beneficiaries of services closer to the source of social investment decision-making. Key insights from end user beneficiaries could improve products and services and present a more authentic assessment of what will make people’s lives better. TYF will curate a project to discuss, challenge and reiterate the case for “user voice”, drawing on expertise from a wide range of sources, with the intent of increasing understanding of its role in the field of social investment. TYF will explore how engaging directly with end user beneficiaries can sensibly sit within the broader discipline of impact management, and as part of the Impact Management Project.

The objective of this project is to engage with and promote the value of end user voice, and to co-design possible routes to test the implementation of user voice in practice. The intended impact is to increase the attention and action given by the social investment sector to the voices, experiences and stories of the people and groups that it works in service of. This approach will help to advance the ‘impact first’ narrative and to ensure that social impact is embedded at the core of the services that intermediaries provide.

Project: Shifting Gears
Grant: £44,240 

Voice4Change England (V4CE) is a registered charity set up in 2007 to support and advocate on behalf of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) voluntary and community sector organisations and social enterprises (VCSEs). The aim is to build a stronger and inclusive civil society to improve the life outcomes for BME and other populations subject to disadvantage and discrimination. V4CE does this in a number of ways, including enhancing public policy; supporting BME-led self-organised action and engagement; and contributing to a constructive discourse about race inequality and racism.

The project will engage BME VCSEs to improve take up social investment through the right service product design for varied communities. V4CE has identified the need to raise awareness of the possibilities that social investment could offer BME sector organisations which are in a position to trade and take on repayable finance. V4CE believes there is also a need to create and ensure a steady pipeline of VCSEs capable of moving to investment, through setting up a pre-investment development programme to become investment ready.

The project will have a specific focus on community asset transfers (CATs) to BME communities and will culminate in a national event which will to bring together a collection of some of the most advanced BME CAT projects to compare experiences, challenges and solutions.

Data Sharing

Networks

Project: SIMPL. Exeter (Social Investment Market Place Links)
Grant: £40,000

This is a joint initiative across Exeter CVS, Plymouth VCSE and Torbay Community Development Trust to create a viable and vibrant market for social finance in Exeter and Devon. The project involves developing a sub-regional Social Investment Market Place Links (SIMPL) approach that brings commissioners, investors and VCSE providers to deliver a “buy social” strategy. The project will develop a market for smaller VCSEs to access social investment finance by creating links to new investors able to offer smaller sums, and fostering enterprise networks that deliver across the joint sub-regional footprints of health, police and crime to address local issues related to housing, addiction, criminal justice and health inequalities.

The project will:

  • engage commissioners, build their skills and knowledge making them less risk-averse to social investment finance and better able to use combined data – a commissioners’ summit will be held to bring common themes together and share learning;
  • engage VCSEs, building their skills and knowledge, offering training and resources in relation to social investment;
  • emerging social entrepreneurs and VCSEs will be supported through training, one-to-one support and networking;
  • work with South West Academic Health Science Network (SWAHSN), a membership network of various NHS trusts with the aim of improving health and creating wealth in the South West, and Resonance Social Investment Funds to develop sub-regional investment strategies and support for creating social economy responses to social and community challenges (ageing, housing etc.);
  • develop a joint web platform using separate SWAHSN funds to host tools and resources and provide brokerage for partnerships and collaborations.

The SIMPL group of voluntary sector infrastructure organisations anticipate a range of shared impacts, which include: a) Provider markets become more diverse in the local commissioning space. b) VCSEs develop a greater understanding of opportunities for social investment and adapt their business models. c) New social businesses have more entry points to local markets, are better connected to build collaboration and to share learning and support. d) Commissioners have better knowledge, awareness and understanding of the role of social investment leading to better outcomes. e) Investors better understand market needs, adapting models and products through dialogue with providers and commissioners. f) A more diverse range of products are created. g) Learning emerges locally to inform all actors within the social marketplace. Learning is evaluated and shared widely. h) Community infrastructure (both VCSE sector support, and social enterprise networks) are strengthened and recognised by all actors within the social marketplace as pro-active brokers to respond to social need.

Project: SIMPL. Plymouth (Social Investment Market Place Links)
Grant: £38,600

This is a joint initiative across Exeter CVS, Plymouth VCSE and Torbay Community Development Trust to create a viable and vibrant market for social finance in Exeter and Devon. The project involves developing a sub-regional Social Investment Market Place Links (SIMPL) approach that brings commissioners, investors and VCSE providers to deliver a “buy social” strategy. The project will develop a market for smaller VCSEs to access social investment finance by creating links to new investors able to offer smaller sums, and fostering enterprise networks that deliver across the joint sub-regional footprints of health, police and crime to address local issues related to housing, addiction, criminal justice and health inequalities.

The project will:

  • engage commissioners, build their skills and knowledge making them less risk-averse to social investment finance and better able to use combined data – a commissioners’ summit will be held to bring common themes together and share learning;
  • engage VCSEs, building their skills and knowledge, offering training and resources in relation to social investment;
  • emerging social entrepreneurs and VCSEs will be supported through training, one-to-one support and networking;
  • work with South West Academic Health Science Network (SWAHSN), a membership network of various NHS trusts with the aim of improving health and creating wealth in the South West, and Resonance Social Investment Funds to develop sub-regional investment strategies and support for creating social economy responses to social and community challenges (ageing, housing etc.);
  • develop a joint web platform using separate SWAHSN funds to host tools and resources and provide brokerage for partnerships and collaborations.

The SIMPL group of voluntary sector infrastructure organisations anticipate a range of shared impacts, which include: a) Provider markets become more diverse in the local commissioning space. b) VCSEs develop a greater understanding of opportunities for social investment and adapt their business models. c) New social businesses have more entry points to local markets, are better connected to build collaboration and to share learning and support. d) Commissioners have better knowledge, awareness and understanding of the role of social investment leading to better outcomes. e) Investors better understand market needs, adapting models and products through dialogue with providers and commissioners. f) A more diverse range of products are created. g) Learning emerges locally to inform all actors within the social marketplace. Learning is evaluated and shared widely. h) Community infrastructure (both VCSE sector support, and social enterprise networks) are strengthened and recognised by all actors within the social marketplace as pro-active brokers to respond to social need.

Project: 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.

Project: Bridge to Social Investment
Grant: £31,000

The project aims to raise awareness of social investment (SI), develop capacity for trading for sustainable income (and to make repayable investment a viable option) and develop a social enterprise network in Essex to provide peer support, lobby for increased resources, support and use of social enterprises by commissioning agencies.

SEEE’s project is aiming to influence both the supply and demand sides. Activities aimed at social enterprises will include holding an event to raise awareness of SI and social enterprise (SE); reviewing existing data on SE activity in Essex; sharing information with local enterprises and potential users of SE and SI about what works and what support is available; delivering a development programme targeted at specific local identified need; linking social enterprises to existing support; and signposting enterprises to potential funders including social investors and commissioners.

On the funding side, SEEE will work with the Essex Growth Hub, helping it to have a better understanding of social enterprises. SEEE will use its own links, and those of the growth hub, to try to influence better commissioning. SEEE will also promote the concept of social enterprise, encouraging more individuals and organisations to “buy social”, both directly or via supply chains. Finally, it will be working with a local large health provider (Provide CIC) which currently has a small grant scheme which Provide CIC hopes to be able to (at least partially) transform into a repayable finance scheme for smaller organisations.

The primary purpose of the project is to create a sustainable thriving social enterprise network in Essex, increasing capacity for, and awareness and use of social investment and a social enterprise approach.

Project: 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.

Project: The Gathering for Social Investment Conference – March 2019 – Leicester

Grant: £17,897

The Gathering was an event held in March 2019 in Leicester and it was curated and hosted by the Steering Group to engage the UK social investment sector.

The Steering Group was chaired by the Connect Fund, and other members includes representatives from Big Issue Invest, Big Society Capital, CAF Venturesome, Northstar Ventures, Resonance and Social Investment Business

It created an opportunity for 150+ active social investors to build networks, listen to new voices, and propose collaborative solutions to sector challenges.

Funded projects, Grants, Networks

Project: 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.

Project: SIMPL. Torbay (Social Investment Market Place Links)
Grant: £40,000

This is a joint initiative across Exeter CVS, Plymouth VCSE and Torbay Community Development Trust to create a viable and vibrant market for social finance in Exeter and Devon. The project involves developing a sub-regional Social Investment Market Place Links (SIMPL) approach that brings commissioners, investors and VCSE providers to deliver a “buy social” strategy. The project will develop a market for smaller VCSEs to access social investment finance by creating links to new investors able to offer smaller sums, and fostering enterprise networks that deliver across the joint sub-regional footprints of health, police and crime to address local issues related to housing, addiction, criminal justice and health inequalities.

The project will:

  • engage commissioners, build their skills and knowledge making them less risk-averse to social investment finance and better able to use combined data – a commissioners’ summit will be held to bring common themes together and share learning;
  • engage VCSEs, building their skills and knowledge, offering training and resources in relation to social investment;
  • emerging social entrepreneurs and VCSEs will be supported through training, one-to-one support and networking;
  • work with South West Academic Health Science Network (SWAHSN), a membership network of various NHS trusts with the aim of improving health and creating wealth in the South West, and Resonance Social Investment Funds to develop sub-regional investment strategies and support for creating social economy responses to social and community challenges (ageing, housing etc.);
  • develop a joint web platform using separate SWAHSN funds to host tools and resources and provide brokerage for partnerships and collaborations.

The SIMPL group of voluntary sector infrastructure organisations anticipate a range of shared impacts, which include: a) Provider markets become more diverse in the local commissioning space. b) VCSEs develop a greater understanding of opportunities for social investment and adapt their business models. c) New social businesses have more entry points to local markets, are better connected to build collaboration and to share learning and support. d) Commissioners have better knowledge, awareness and understanding of the role of social investment leading to better outcomes. e) Investors better understand market needs, adapting models and products through dialogue with providers and commissioners. f) A more diverse range of products are created. g) Learning emerges locally to inform all actors within the social marketplace. Learning is evaluated and shared widely. h) Community infrastructure (both VCSE sector support, and social enterprise networks) are strengthened and recognised by all actors within the social marketplace as pro-active brokers to respond to social need.

Project: Social Investment Pilot for Community Foundations
Grant: £50,000 

UK Community Foundations (UKCF) is a registered charity that acts as the national network organisation representing 46 community foundations (CFs) around the UK. The organisation is dedicated to working locally to inspire philanthropic donors to give back to their community.

UKCF wants to grow the confidence of member CFs to engage in social investment, to stimulate the opportunity for smaller VCSEs to consider trading as a part of their income mix, and to help cascade models to other CFs ready to consider social loans. CFs are particularly well placed to help small and medium-sized VCSEs understand whether social finance is right for them, and the pilot would help change the current CF culture so that social investment is seen as an important tool for CFs.

This pilot will help UKCF explore how philanthropic capital could be used to stimulate local enterprise, including how best to use SITR, crowdfunding, and partnerships with social investment intermediaries as methods to draw in new donors, and persuade donors to invest in different ways in their communities.

Project: North East – Investing for social impact
Grant: £44,240 

Voluntary Organisations’ Network North East (VONNE) is a registered charity that acts as the support body for the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector in the North East. Its mission is to support and promote a thriving, effective VCSE sector in the North East of England. One of its key activities is to engage and collaborate with external stakeholders to support the sector to be effective, ambitious and enterprising.

VONNE will work with key VCSE stakeholders to transform attitudes to social investment in the North East. This project is trialling new approaches to engagement and support of the VCSE sector to adopt more enterprising models of operation, leading to a greater appetite for social investment for sustainability and growth. Underpinning the range of activities detailed below will be the creation of a regional social investment strategy. The strategy will be informed by research evidence as well as the North East Enterprise Framework, which illustrates the growth journey of VCSE organisations.

VONNE will bring together a network of regional social investors and intermediaries to share challenges, opportunities, and develop a regional social investment strategy. VONNE will create a ‘buddy’ system to support new investees with colleagues from within the sector who have already raised investment; fund and support this and use the learning to create new resources and inform the investment landscape.

Project: 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.

Project: Pioneers Post Enterprise Development Project

Grant: £30,000

Pioneers Post offers a trusted, independent source of news and information about policy and practice in the sector, which is needed as the market grows. Through its content partnerships it is also able to share opportunities, experiences and knowledge with a wider audience. In order to sustain this work, PP needs to strengthen its current business model to ensure it generates income to support the delivery of its journalistic content.

Over the next year, PP will look to improve the offer to its readership and develop a more sustainable business model, with stronger governance. This will be achieved by carrying out a customer survey to gather intelligence on the content mix; online user experience; and partnership and subscription offers, including price point and preferred delivery format, whether that be digital, print or app form. The PP team will then refine its delivery model and develop a business plan to support its offer and ensure a more stable and sustainable approach to growing both revenue and impact.  The CEO and Partnership Manager, with support from an external consultant, will also review the governance structure for PP to determine what changes can be put in place to strengthen PP and ensure it is resilient enough to take on longer-term investment as required.

The changes PP will make as a result of this project will increase its financial sustainability, ensuring that the social enterprise and social investment sector has an ongoing and trusted resource providing news, information and an opportunity to promote their work, building the case for supporting social enterprise more broadly. PP is also looking to create a better user experience for its key audiences, but focusing and tailoring content to better the respond to the needs of the sector. The improve content and financial position will help PP’s increase its reach and provide learning for a greater number of social enterprises, social investors and mission-driven businesses.

Project: 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.

Project: Developing a Learning Platform for Venture Philanthropy

Grant: £30,000

The project aims to develop a learning platform for venture philanthropy to enable wider access to patient capital for VCSEs in the UK.

The Sumerian Foundation has established a pooled funding facility, the UK Social Inequality Fund, based on deploying a “venture philanthropy” approach to help high impact VCSEs to grow and scale. Venture Philanthropy (VP) is based upon: providing appropriate finance tailored to the specific needs of social organisations; providing non-financial skills tailored to the specific needs of each organisation, and; integrated impact management. This finance facility will build on the management team’s track record and replicate the approach successfully deployed by the Shell Foundation over 15 years to catalyse VCSEs using tailored finance adapted to the specific requirements of each business model. In many cases this includes long-term, equity or equity-like investment, alongside business support. The objective is to use the UK finance facility as an active learning platform to promote wider uptake of VP in the UK, along with partners including Comic Relief, Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Trust (GSTT) and the European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA).

Sumerian Foundation will develop the venture philanthropy learning platform element of the UK Social Inequality Facility, with active collaboration from the Connect Fund. Particularly, the fund will support Phase 1 of the initiative, with focus on the development of the operations manual, processes and tools, and establishment of training modules for the learning platform, in partnership with 1-2 early stage partners. The aim in Phase 2 will be to finalise the VP training programme and develop an open-source, online VP learning platform. Sumerian will promote the training progamme to other intermediaries, trusts and foundations and will develop a “learning community” in the UK.

This active learning programme will embed social finance skills in a wider range of intermediary institutions to grow the number of practitioners and the size of funds under management. The ultimate benefit will be to social enterprises and their beneficiaries, as frontline VCSEs will have greater access to patient capital to scale up and achieve social impact in the UK. Social investment intermediaries, trusts and foundations will use the learning platform to develop their VP processes, competence and finance skills to deliver appropriate, tailored finance for high impact social enterprises.

Project: Disseminating learning from philanthropic capital

Grant: £30,000

The project aims to engage a wider number of trusts and foundations to build a learning platform for philanthropic capital. With Connect Fund support, Sumerian Foundation (SF) developed a training programme focused on the practical use and application of philanthropic capital and successfully tested this training with Guys and St Thomas’s Trust (GSTT). This project has demonstrated demand for ongoing practical support, training and information in relation to the use and investment of philanthropic finance.

SF has had discussions with other trusts and foundations in the UK that reveal a strong interest in learning how to develop capacity in social investment – specifically around selecting and structuring diverse financial instruments, the skills and approaches required to provide enterprise development support, and monitoring progress against both financial and impact targets. Based on positive feedback from GSTT, SF propose to bolster the training programme and develop an open source learning platform to promote the wider use and support for patient capital plus enterprise development, which is widely known as venture philanthropy (VP).

Building on the work carried out to date, SF will develop an open source learning platform to host the standards, templates, information and training tools for open source dissemination. SF will also engage with other organisations that have relevant open source learning platforms and can share key lessons learned, and in order to identify an organisation wishing to host the open source learning. SF will work with the selected partner(s) to test and enhance the platform before it is handed over to be maintained for wider sector benefit.

The intent is to address the need that VCSEs have for better access to patient risk finance from a greater number of sources. A further benefit is that trusts and foundations that will use the learning platform to develop and evolve their social investment strategies and processes to deliver more effective finance and enterprise support. The objective is to build the market for philanthropic capital and to give staff members the skills, tools and confidence to provide patient or blended finance to charities and social enterprises.

Data Sharing

Skills development

Project: Infrastructure Social Investment Support

Grant: £58,850

Through this project, the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA) will embed learning from the Connect Fund, establishing NAVCA as a trusted source of information, advice and support on social investment for local infrastructure organisations (LIOs). Founded in 1991, NAVCA is the only membership body for local voluntary sector support and development organisations in England, serving nearly 200 member organisations, which are embedded in communities and working with over 145,000 local charity and voluntary groups.

The Connect Fund has limited resources to reach a full geographical spread of LIOs in England. This project will add value to the work of the Connect Fund, by expanding the reach of resources developed by other grantholders and providing support and training to NAVCA’s membership. NAVCA will use its member-only online platform and its website to promote and share existing resources, providing a long-term home for local social investment knowledge and support. As part of this project, NAVCA is also working in partnership with the Good Finance team from Big Society Capital (BSC) and has been contracted to coordinate the delivery of a programme of Let’s Talk Good Finance (LTGF) workshops, which member organisations will deliver, with reimbursement for their time.

NAVCA staff will receive development training to ensure they have the skills and knowledge internally to incorporate social investment across all aspects of their work and enable them to better support LIOs on this topic. NAVCA will utilise expertise from those working on Connect Fund projects as well as external consultants, as necessary, to deliver regional information events, as well as creating a community of practice for local Social Investment advice and support. Its existing online-platform and website will become a repository for resources and knowledge on social investment for local infrastructure to use in supporting organisations in their local area. The increased availability of support will enable local voluntary organisations to make more informed decisions on how to adapt and grow in challenging financial times.

Project: Social Investment Ready LeicesterShire
Grant: £18,200

Voluntary Action LeicesterShire (VAL) aims to build internal understanding and networks for social investment in Leicestershire. VAL provides infrastructure services for the whole of Leicestershire, city and county. It supports volunteering, provides advice and services to local charities and community groups and seeks to influence local plans and strategies on behalf of the local voluntary and community sector (VCS).

The project will focus on internal skill development by engaging with CASE Leicester in a staff training programme on social investment. VAL will also carry out work to develop a local East Midlands VCSE Network, which will strengthen local capacity and capability to advance enterprise development leading to social investment. VAL has identified a number of areas where social investment could provide the up-front support to develop services with the potential to reduce the pressure on public services: providing working capital for an existing social prescribing programme to be rolled-out widely; preventing school exclusions and reducing child poverty; helping the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) reduce the effects of in-work poverty; better jobs and training outcomes for young people; improving the mental health and wellbeing of young people; reducing offending; and tackling social isolation.

The long-term aim is a more sustainable VCSE sector with diversified income streams better able to meet community needs and demonstrate impact. VAL wants to better position itself to provide advice to VCSEs and to engage with commissioning teams. VAL will upskill its own staff to take the first steps to achieve broader engagement with social investment. VAL will also measure its contribution to the East Midlands regional VCSE network in partnership with CASE.

Project: Invest4Good Peterborough & Wider Cambridgeshire
Grant: £21,000

PCVS aims to support the growth of social investment in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire, by delivering a capacity-building project, specifically for the health and social care sector in the area, with a series of one-day workshops (overview of social investment, a SIB and outcomes-based payment session, ideas testing day, business planning workshop and a dry run for social investment propositions). The project will culminate in a half-day conference at which the sector will be consulted on next steps for social investment.

Like other local organisations, PCVS has identified lack of opportunity for small investments to provide opportunities for organisations to test the water. It plans to work up a business plan for micro payment by results (less than £50,000 value) to establish proof of concept. PCVS also set up the Peterborough Plus Consortium (a VCSE joint venture geared towards large scale contracts, which has secured a £1 million employment support contract) and is hopeful of a £9 million Social Impact Bond (SIB) for social prescribing being launched following its success in getting to the development stage of the Life Chances Fund.

The project expects to increase awareness of social investment among health and social care organisations in Peterborough and the surrounding area, with 75 organisations engaging in awareness-raising events, 10 organisations receiving intensive training, of which 6 going on to secure social investment or report they are closer to doing so. PCVS will benefit as the experience of running the programme will help it in its ambition to become a SIFI. Local people will benefit, particularly if the SIB comes off and a greater range of organisations are able to offer social prescribing with measurable outcomes.

Project: Medway VCSE Social Investment Champion Programme
Grant: £21,000

Medway Voluntary Action (MVA) will create a social enterprise champions programme by recruiting local sector leaders who will be trained to act as advocates and mentors for social investment. Support will be available via a mix of one-to-one support, website resources and promoting best practice and shared learning.

MVA will facilitate the delivery of the program using its existing communication mechanisms, training service arm and relationship with the VCSE leaders network. Core to the programme will be an event on social enterprise with keynote speakers and 4 preparatory workshops on subjects related to social enterprise. MVA will then create learning partnerships by inviting event attendees to apply for mentoring support from the champions. Champions will be trained to support VCSEs on types of borrowing, opportunities and risks, what is required in order to apply to social investment, measuring social impact, current funds and application processes. As a result of this project, MVA expects to leave a legacy of information, advice and example organisations that will help to inspire future local entrepreneurs.

MVA expects small to medium-sized VCSE organisations in Medway to have a greater ability to explore and access social investment; which in turn will help increase the sustainability of those organisations and the services/support they provide to local beneficiaries. MVA will make the resources and advice on social investment readily accessible in the future along with its expanded in-house capacity to support social investment.

Project: The East Sussex Social Enterprise Support Service (SESS)
Grant: £31,650

Hastings Voluntary Action will develop a Social Enterprise Support Service (SESS) to strengthen relationships between social enterprises and social investment intermediaries. The service will create a member-led network of social enterprises to gather information, providing training and support, influence policy and promote the social enterprise sector. A key objective will be for the SESS to contribute to regional economic strategies through the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), to better connect social enterprises to social investment intermediaries, and to foster enterprise development for improved financial resilience.

HVA will work with a social enterprise partner Hastings Works (The Work People) to host 4 networking events per year; recruit and train 12 Social Investment Champions to build in-depth knowledge of financial and support opportunities for the social enterprise sector; provide social enterprises with bespoke one-to-one support; and make use of a web-based online forum to develop a learning community of local social entrepreneurs.

HVA expects that the SESS will increase collaboration and support to the local social enterprise sector; raise awareness and take up of social investment; encourage new forms of generating revenue and promote enterprise development as a means to enhance financial resilience.

Project: Social Investment Breakthrough
Grant: £43,200

The project aims to boost demand for social investment among smaller voluntary, community and social enterprises (VCSEs) and increase the supply of suitable social investment products in South Yorkshire. The project aims will be delivered by: developing the skills of boards and senior management to make critical and informed decisions about social investment; researching the nature of the demand for social investment, particularly among new social enterprises; fostering engagement between social investors, support providers and VCSE organisations in the co-design investment products; and expanding the number of VCSE organisations able to identify the suitable social investment products and apply successfully for it.

Delivery methods include: research into the level and nature of latent demand to determine what would make social investment more attractive; supply side research into how to make social investment more readily accessible; skill building workshops aimed at Boards and senior managers; one-to-one and small group mentoring sessions to help participants develop investible propositions; facilitated learning circles that bring together VCSE organisations, social investors and intermediaries.

Groundwork South Yorkshire expects: to improve the leadership and governance capabilities of participants; and that participants will report a clearer sense of direction and improved growth strategy. It also expects social investors engaged in the programme will innovate and broaden their offer as a result.

Project: Accessible Social Investment for Birmingham
Grant: £50,000

The project will build BVSC staff expertise on social investment to pilot VCSE enterprise development support. Initially, BVSC will engage with OPM (Traverse) to provide training and development to BVSC to build the capacity of internal staff to embed social finance knowledge and skills in the organisation. This will progress to the development and delivery of a pilot project for BVSC’s VCSE members to raise awareness of social investment, and to build consortia or collaborative social enterprise projects across the West Midlands Combined Authority area.

The project will carry out a stakeholder benchmarking exercise across the region; map BVSC staff’s social investment knowledge and develop an internal training programme to build staff skills; develop an external training programme for the VCSE sector more widely; develop a web resource on the existing website; develop a diagnostic tool which will enable local VCSE organisations to assess their readiness to engage with social investment opportunities; review of current social investment interventions in region to determine priority areas for future work; and develop two collaborative projects with VCSEs to foster enterprise development and progress towards social investment.

The project aims to deliver high-quality social investment advice and better engage member VCSEs; and give access to training on social investment to organisations in West Midlands so they are better equipped to take a more proactive and intelligent approach to engaging with social finance. BVSC will work in partnership and share information on its project with Wolverhampton Voluntary Service Council (WVSC).

Project: Market Making for Social Investment
Grant: £15,000 

The School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) in Yorkshire and Humber is a company limited by guarantee that is part of the larger SSE network. The SSE is a social membership organisation with independent and locally governed schools across the UK, Canada and India. The organisation supports social entrepreneurs to create change in their communities and improve the lives of others. With SSE’s help to start, scale-up and sustain their organisations, social entrepreneurs are able to have an impact on urgent issues, such as poverty, health, education and the environment.

To tackle barriers to social investment, SSEYH will work with a select group of up to 10 social entrepreneurs who will be invited to participate in a 6-day action learning programme with one other individual from their organisation, ideally a Board member. By introducing social investment much earlier in the growth phase of a social enterprise, the programme is intended to expand the social investment market beyond the selected cohort by creating a ripple effect that will encourage the cohort’s peers to exploring social investment as an option to support future growth.

The six-day learning programme will consist of four programme days and two action learning days. The focus of the four days will be on visioning (what is the long term aspirations of the social enterprise, what growth is anticipated, over what period); assessing finances (understanding the current financial position, making financial projections for the future, what options are viable); overcoming barriers/building confidence around the social investment proposition; and bringing clarity to next steps towards investment readiness. SSEYH will invite a range of experts, in this case social entrepreneurs, who have experienced social investment and are willing to share their journey with participants.

Project: 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.

 

Project: 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.

Data Sharing

Standards and Templates

Project: 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.