What do we fund?

The Connect Fund aligns its work with the strategic objectives of our partner, Access. Following the impact of Covid-19 on the social sector, the Connect Fund has re-focused its funding priorities across three focus areas to support work that will best prepare the infrastructure of the social investment market to respond to the needs of charities and social enterprises in a challenging recovery phase.

The Connect Fund is here to support and protect the social investment market infrastructure and ensure it is able to survive and function through this challenging recovery period. If you are a social investment intermediary that has been inhibited from supporting organisations during the crisis and recovery phase because of your own financial situation, you can contact the Connect Fund team and we can look at ways to support your organisation.

The Connect Fund will also work with key strategic partners to support Access’ work across its other programmes, including the Local Access Programme and the Enterprise Development Programme.

The Connect Fund does not provide grants and/or social investment to frontline charities or social enterprises involved in direct service delivery, unless their proposal is directly linked to improving the social investment market in England. You should consult Good Finance if you have questions about social investment.

Equality and Diversity

To support work that addresses diversity and inclusion in the social investment sector as well as issues of inequality in the social investment market

Expected outcomes

  • Social investment intermediaries and infrastructure organisations take actions to increase diversity and inclusion in social investment sector.
  • Diverse voices in the social investment market are maintained and strengthened.
  • The need for appropriate support and products to enable groups experiencing barriers to access social investment are addressed.

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis.

Funding guidelines

Apply here

Business Support Development

To support projects that prepare infrastructure organisations to provide appropriate business support into the recovery phase and further our understanding about what the sector needs to adapt and be resilient to future shocks.

Expected outcomes

  • The market infrastructure is better equipped to respond to the business support needs of charities and social enterprises as they address the impacts of Covid-19 on their organisation.
  • There is better understanding in the market about how products and services can support and build resilience of charities and social enterprises responding to the impact of the crisis.
  • Learning is shared about how intermediaries and infrastructure organisations can provide cost effective business support to the sector.
  • More knowledge is gathered about the characteristics of greater resilience which make organisations more able to respond and adapt effectively in crisis circumstances (e.g. business model, capacity, culture, etc.)

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis.

Funding guidelines

Apply here

Flexible Finance for the Recovery

We are supporting Access with the development of its new £18m+ Flexible Finance for the Recovery programme. Access has grant funding available to blend with other sources of repayable finance in order to create more flexible and patient investment products that will meet the needs of the sector as it looks towards recovery.

We supported Access’ early consultation work with a call for ideas and by facilitating a series of roundtables. You can read our information sheet to find out more. 

As Access now progresses this work by launching a formal Expression of Interest, the Connect Fund will be providing grants to some applicants to support the development of their investment proposal. Unsolicited applications will not be accepted to the fund.

The call for ideas closed at the end of September 2020.

Who can apply?

The Connect Fund supports organisations operating in England only.
Your organisation must be:

  • A voluntary sector infrastructure organisation; membership body; umbrella organisation; sector, place-based, or equalities network; a community foundation;

  • Or a social investment fund manager or advisor.

Your organisation must be incorporated and registered as a charity, social enterprise or have social purpose clearly incorporated into the articles of association.

We particularly welcome applications from BAME-led, Disability-led, LGBTQ+-led, and Women-led infrastructure and intermediary organisations.

Sign up to our newsletter or follow us on Twitter to keep informed about funding.

Application Process

Before completing the application form, please carefully read the funding guidelines of the appropriate programme to confirm you meet the criteria.

Applying to the Equality and Diversity programme or the Business Support Development programme:

Please complete the Enquiry form.

We will review your EOI and if we feel it meets our funding criteria, we will contact you to discuss your application further. We will aim to respond to your EOI within 10 working days.

If you progress to the next stage, you will be invited to complete a full online application and to submit financial and legal documents.

We will prepare a full grant assessment for consideration and get back to you with a decision and feedback.

Responding to Flexible Finance for the Recovery programme – design phase:

The response form will initally be open until September 2020.

Following the submission of your form, we will review your response with Access and you will be contacted with information about the next stage of the design process for the programme. 

You will be informed when Access’ Expression of Interest for the Flexible Finance for Recovery Fund is open.

Access may refer some potential applicants to the Connect Fund for support to develop ideas and partnerships further, ahead of Access’ application process opening.

If you are awarded a grant by the Connect Fund you will be expected to join our Learning Community, which provides an opportunity to share insights and collaborate with other projects.

Please contact us if you have any questions.