About the Connect Fund

What is the Connect Fund?

The Connect Fund has been set up to strengthen the social investment market in England to better meet the needs of charities and social enterprises. The fund provides grants to develop shared resources and infrastructure for a market that supports mission.

The Connect Fund, also known as the ‘Social Investment Infrastructure Fund’ is a £6 million fund for grants and investments that The Barrow Cadbury Trust manages in partnership with Access – the Foundation for Social Investment.

The Access Foundation chose the Barrow Cadbury Trust to deliver the Connect Fund because of its experience in social investment, expertise in voluntary sector infrastructure, and its approach, which is to work in partnership with those its funds towards a common goal.

Social investment is one tool for charities and social enterprises to consider as they explore ways to generate income through assets or trading.

If you would like general information about social investment please see the Good Finance website.

How does it work?

The Connect Fund provides grants and investment to build a better social investment market by:

  • Improving the connection of social investment to charities and social enterprises
  • Connecting voluntary sector infrastructure to the social investment market
  • Advancing a more open, diverse and accessible social investment market
  • Better connecting social investment intermediaries through partnerships, tools and resources

What problem is the Connect Fund trying to solve?

Charities and social enterprises require small amounts of affordable finance to allow them to create more social impact, particularly as they develop new ways to earn income. Despite having been set up for this purpose, many existing social investment intermediaries struggle to provide this type of finance.

Why is this? The social invesment market is immature. The type or structure of finance on offer might make it too expensive. There are many information gaps and lack of shared data. Resources could be better shared to lower transaction costs. Social enterprises need capacity building to be investment ready. Brokers with strong connections to specific places or sectors may be required.

Some of these challenges can be addressed by catalysing shared resources and market infrastructure; and by testing new ways for existing voluntary sector infrastructure to engage with social investment.