Current Funding

Grants awarded for current programmes

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Post Covid-19 Recovery

Peer network Programmes

Challenge Funds

See below a list of grants awarded under the current funding guidelines. You can see a list of learning resources generated by these grants on the Learning page.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Project: Inclusive social investment

Grant: £30,000

The grant will contribute towards the funding of a Pipeline Development Lead. The role will work to build pipeline for lending work, ensuring a strong match between venture needs and Big Issue Invest lending terms; ensuring the pipeline is as diverse as possible in line with a benchmark of 50% of the portfolio being diverse-led organisations and a commitment to fund the most deprived areas of the UK. Key areas of focus will include conducting research, holding events, connecting with ventures, working with community organisations, tracking DEI data and contributing to a learning paper. There will also be support contributed to the impact reporting with the impact team.

Project: Delivering finance to black-led organisations through new means

Grant: £60,000

This programme will integrate black-led organisations into the social investment ecosystem and create a new model of funding with partners that will allow the programme to champion the sustainability of black-led charities and social enterprises. Do it Now Now will support grant recipients in pursuing social investments from established social investors, whilst seeking social investors who will ring-fence funding within existing endowments. This will also include facilitating appropriate business skills support, and visibility, whilst improving the understanding and awareness of black-led organisations among investors.

The programme will help to ensure funding is suited to the needs of black-led charities and social enterprises and this model will support black-led organisations through a tier-led approach first with grant, then capacity building with the ultimate goal of ensuring social investment within a funder that has a ring-fenced amount.

Project: Social Economy Investment Community Consultants

Grant: £58,500

For Business Sake will co-design and develop a Social Investment Training Programme for 12 aspiring Social Economy Investment Community Consultants (SEICC) to support the diversification of the social investment eco-system. The SEICC Programme will bring together specialist diverse social investment advisors to highlight the barriers and challenges that are faced when Black and Racialised communities are trying to access specialist business support and social impact finance advice from culturally lived, experienced advisors and consultants. The SEICC Training Programme will be designed to increase awareness of issues affecting social sector organisations and increase the social economy skill base, leading to increased capacity-building support for Social Enterprises. It will also create a social capital and platform for underrepresented groups suffering from intersectionality, providing a safe space where their voices can be heard, acknowledged and appreciated. At the end of the programme, For Business Sake will conduct a social investment warehouse engagement programme that will underpin the need for a more diverse and inclusive advisor market by using the information and data gleaned from the programme. It is envisioned that more social investors will contract the SEICC to support their existing and aspiring cohorts of diverse-led investees with capacity-building support to develop further, grow and sustain the work.

Project: Embedding Equality, Diversity and Inclusion within GMCVO

Grant: £35,240

The project will work to 1) Create a series of internal commitments across all the teams and how to action and measure these commitments which are SMART and measurable and accountable; 2) Help to review and update existing and develop policies, taking into review 13 different policies relating to different protected characteristics and EDI; 3) Help shape the steering committee into a functioning task orientated group;  4) Help implement changes to HR and recruitment systems; 5) Support to embed EDI into all systems and processes, especially around grant and social investment so that they are accessible to everyone in Greater Manchester and 6) Help create a toolkit of accessible language for grant making and social investment.

Project: Socioeconomic privilege,inclusion and social investment

Grant: £47,500

This project will address the gap in evidence and understanding of the nature and impact of socio-economic diversity in social investing. The UK social investment industry has taken more deliberate steps to address EDI and there has been focus on protected characteristics of organisation leadership such as ethnicity and gender. However, evidence from outside the social investment space shows that progress on protected characteristics is held back when wider power and privilege dynamics are not taken into account. This project will produce new information and inform change, working collaboratively with social investors to ensure that information collected can be used to inform improved EDI practices.

Project: Create Equity Accelerator Programme

Grant: £60,000

Create Equity is launching an accelerator programme designed to provide organisational development, capacity building and grant financing to black-led social enterprises and charities in the arts and creative industries. The Create Equity accelerator programme will address the historic underfunding of black-led organisations, by providing corrective investment to support the development of 10-15 enterprises.

The outcomes and learnings from the accelerator will act as a research project, to example best practices in capacity building for black-led organisations and catalyse wider change towards racially equitable funding in the UK. The Connect Fund grant will contribute towards the advisory and mentorship support to diversifying the market of social investment. The accelerator will help establish and refine Create Equity’s advisory function – increasing their capacity to prepare black-led enterprises for investment. Indirectly, it will also build the awareness of Create Equity as a black led infrastructure organisation.

Project: Diversity Forum – Phase 3

Grant: £60,000

Since it was established in 2017, the Diversity Forum has worked to improve inclusion and diversity within social investors and social investment intermediaries. It produced a comprehensive review of diversity in the social investment sector in 2018 and has since produced a manifesto for social investors and built a peer-network of Diversity Champions. The Diversity Forum is looking to continue and expand on this work; strengthening diverse voices in the market, increasing their representation and making social investors more reflective of the communities they support.

The long term impacts of this project will be that the social investment sector will be a more diverse, inclusive and equitable place to work. The inclusion of more diverse voices and lived experience within the sector will positively influence and impact the relationship between investors and investees. Social investment organisations will recruit from a wider pool of talent, giving them a greater range of perspectives and making them more reflective of and accountable to the communities they are set up to serve. This in turn will help improve social Investment products and programmes as they will be more accessible, informed and well-designed to suit the needs of potential investees and the people who run them.

Project: Equalising Deal Terms

Grant: £28,920

This project will focus on the inequality between impact investors and the organisations they invest in, especially in relation to investment terms, processes and legal documentation. Investment terms are often formalised in complex and substantially pro-investor legal documentation. Many impact investees do not have the financial means to obtain their own legal advice, to negotiate or even understand the full implications of entering into such documents.

This project will work together with Bates Wells and a wider group of impact investors and invested organisations to re-imagine and redesign key investment terms, processes and legal documentation so that the models, tools and documents used within impact investing can be better aligned to work in the service of equality.

Project: Equality Impact Investing Project – Phase 3

Grant: £60,000

Over the past three years, the Equality Impact Investing (EII) project has successfully begun to connect the investment and equality sectors, and developed well-received recommendations about how to progress this work. The next phase of its work will use the spotlight the Covid-19 crisis has shone on societal inequalities to encourage investors to reform policies and processes in order to address these issues which have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

The project aims to establish a set of collective equality impact targets that individual investors will incorporate into their policies and plans, offering an opportunity for a coordinated approach across the sector. The project will work closely with investors to deepen their understanding of inequality and intersectionality, supporting them to apply EII principles and strategies in their operations. It will also continue its work to bring investor impact management practices and professional standards in line with established equality and human rights sector approaches. This third phase of work will help to embed EII in the market and enable the project to prepare an increased Taskforce programme for future years.

You can find out more about EIIP, its training programmes and the Taskforce on its website.


Project: Equality Impact Investing Project 2021-2023

Grant: £120,000

With this follow-on grant, the Equality Impact Investing (EII) project will look to build on the momentum it has generated over the past three years by convening and fostering collaboration among its Taskforce members and coordinating various pieces of advocacy, learning and resource development to improve knowledge of EII within the social investment sector. EII will continue to act as a hub for resources and showcasing examples of best practice. It will deliver its foundational course again for a new cohort of participants and continue to develop its training offer to ensure it is responding to the needs of investors as they adopt and embed EII principles. EII will also establish a Pioneers programme, which will support participants from the 2021 training who remain actively engaged and look to advance the work it has done to date on impact measurement and management.

Social investors will benefit from a deeper understanding of equality and recognition of the role their organisation can play in reducing inequalities, by integrating EII principles into their processes. A more widespread adoption of EII practices will result in an increase in the amount of social investment flowing to charities and social enterprises that are either equality focused or led by/serving communities experiencing inequality.

Project: Equality Diversity and Inclusion Data for the Sector

Grant: £60,000

This project will bring together key stakeholders in the social investment sector to simplify data collection, specifically regarding diversity characteristics for social investment intermediaries. It will improve the standards of data collection and set expectations for best practice through a co-created approach to define content (what data is collected), process (how the data is collected) and communication (how the data is visualised/shared). The team delivering the project will be representative of marginalised leaders within the sector and will hold the sector accountable to applying and using data in meaningful ways.

Project: Match Trading for Better Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Outcomes

Grant: £58,400

The project will identify clear pathways to increase recipients of Match Trading grants, with a specific focus on social enterprise leaders who identify as black or ethnically-minoritised. The project will build upon The School for Social Entrepreneur’s collaborative history, working in partnership with Voice4Change to embed stronger Equality, Diversity and Inclusion infrastructure and data frameworks, to be able to measure the outcomes of black or ethnically minoritised-led social enterprises. It will develop a new portal specifically for Match Trading, which will help two-fold; firstly, creating a flexible toolkit, and secondly facilitating The School of Social Entrepreneurs to aggregate large volumes of data which will assist with lobbying work for this sector in the future, with a particular focus on black and ethnically minoritised-led social entrepreneurs.

Project: Diversity, community-owned business and Community Shares

Grant: £29,600

Ubele will identify the challenges and barriers that have led to the low uptake of community shares among Black and racially minoritised communities, whilst also working to identify examples of co-ops and CBSs that have started, completed, or struggled in a community share offer. The insights generated from the research will design a defined programme of work to support new Black and racially minoritised co-ops and mutuals.

Project: Embedding Racial Justice In Public Markets Research

Grant: £30,000

The project will conduct the research required to explore embedding racial equity in public markets, in recognition that the social investment sector is almost entirely focused on private markets.

The project’s research responds to the emerging demand from foundations to embrace racial equity in their endowment investments, but who lack the understanding of what racial equity means in an investment context and the data and insights on racial equity among the companies they invest in. The project will address these barriers by collating a list of racial equity criteria: ‘Racial Equity Scorecard’ to further support and embed racial justice in public markets in the UK.


Project: Development of the financial passport

Grant: £65,000

This project will develop a new approach to sourcing and pipeline for social investors and social enterprises, streamlining the processes of supplying the same information to many different investors. The current process is time consuming and resource intensive. To streamline this process Crowdfunder is developing the Financial Passport, a tool to make it easier for organisations to access investors and vice versa by bringing together key financial, impact, governance and other information in an easy to share format. The Financial Passport will present a concise summary of the investment proposal to potential investors. They will be guided by technology and people making the programme accessible to those with little or no prior social investment experience. The Financial Passport will sit within the Crowdfunder platform, providing the opportunity for the organisations to demonstrate public support and raise funds for projects through running a crowdfunding campaign. Where a potential investee has also crowdfunded, the investor will be able to view additional insight into the viability of the project.

Project: Energy Resilience Fund Development Grant Scheme

Grant: £100,000

Key Fund will work with a number of social investors to establish the Energy Resilience Fund Development Grant Scheme which will enable social enterprises who own community assets to reduce their energy costs by ‘retro-fitting’ energy saving/generating technologies, whilst at the same time reducing their environmental impact.

This programme will support organisations who face challenges in implementing energy-saving retro-fitting measures due to the high-costs and relatively low financial impact. It will help to protect community assets via grants to help cover the cost of energy audits, technical advice and developing financial models. This will support organisations with the information they need to apply for social investment to cover the capital costs of installation.

Project: Good Food Enterprise: from food aid to food trade

Grant: £80,800

The cost-of-living crisis has meant that millions of people across the UK are struggling to access the food they need.

Sustain will seek to build sustainable solutions with local authorities and social landlords to support food enterprise. This project will provide capacity in four areas of England to help established local infrastructure organisations; boost support and attract social investment for good models; enable shared evaluation and learning; and build the case and advocate for well-evidenced work through more local authorities, social landlords and others as social investors.


Peer network programmes

Project: Bath Social Impact Network

Grant: £32,000

The Bath Social Impact Network (BSIN) will bring together and support social entrepreneurs across Bath and North East Somerset. Alliances will improve social entrepreneurs’ independence and resilience, supporting them to grow and develop investment readiness, whilst building networks and more meaningful relationships. By providing translation and creche services and collaborations with We are the People (a disabled activist support network), the project can offer safe and supportive shared spaces. The project will enable investors and entrepreneurs to explore issues such as capacity, robust governance structures, skilled management teams, improving business/lean canvas plans and pitching. It will also provide the space for investors and founders to convene and discuss issues and concerns around control relating to investments in businesses via the acquisition of equity.

Project: Hands on Help

Grant: £50,000

Project: The Hands-on Help programme will offer high-quality tailored support to time-poor organisations experiencing rapid growth who have told Kindred that they need practical help rather than advice. The programme connects experienced practitioners with specific organisation needs and provides a framework for growth, through dynamic, impactful, peer-to-peer support. The programme will connect Kindred members at later stages in their careers with accumulated knowledge, skills and experience to those experiencing rapid growth with both operational and high-level roles. There will be a larger group of organisations receiving investment readiness support and peer network as part of Kindred’s community of peers.

Project: Building bridges and pathways

Grant: £30,000

This Peer Network project will enable Plymouth Social Enterprise Network to proactively remove barriers to participation and reach out to those who are currently underrepresented within the network, helping them access support, advice and the investment they need to thrive. The project will develop the Social Investment Peer Support Group according to sector, growth stage and need; one to one consultation meetings and networking events and seminars around social investment and diversity by design focus groups. The project will also produce a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy, a comprehensive dataset to inform current membership demographics and a consultation report on perceived and real barriers to engagement through the development of the work.

Project: Peer Networks to Support Market Building

Grant: £37,400

The Peer Networks to Support Market Building programme will develop a range of activities with the aim of assisting charities and social enterprises to explore and improve enterprise development, trading and social investment. This builds on SSEN’s existing work and recognises the untapped potential of its members to benefit through a more accessible programme of peer-to-peer networks.

This programme will include peer mentoring sessions, social enterprise mentors and the creation, facilitation and management of online working groups that will enable the network to delivery support and resources. SSEN will create the space and support to connect community enterprise leaders and social enterprise organisations with their peers via a sustainable and supported network.

Current Funding, Peer Networks

Project: Kent and Midway Peer Network

Grant: £27,700

Project: Social Enterprise Kent will deliver and facilitate a peer networking programme for under-represented Kent and Medway social business leaders that want to grow and develop their organisation and trading and social investment. This network will support organisations to access social investment and become more resilient, connected and sustainable organisations. Through online interactive action learning, participants will discuss the challenges local charities and social enterprises face and explore solutions. Regular peer network group sessions will enable groups to share knowledge, processes and tools for best practice. The programme will also address barriers that under-represented groups face in accessing social investment and develop working partnerships throughout the programme. In addition, the project will provide individual one to one support in the form of mentoring, coaching or advice depending on the support required. The programme will support approx. 40 organisations.

Challenge Funds

Project: Democratic Money

Grant: £83,500

Barking and Dagenham Giving (B&D Giving) will work with The Curiosity Society (TCS) to give ordinary people more control over how money is generated, distributed, and used. B&D Giving will extend the work of their Community Steering Group – CSG, a group of residents that has led the design of their Investment Policy, by onboarding new members and creating an alumni community. It will create a dashboard to monitor the impact of the investments and a digital learning platform to increase community engagement and expand participation. Their long-term partner, TCS will support partners in different geographical areas to learn from this model and build their own versions of democratic money. This will include testing in three new locations and delivering shareable tools for those seeking to engage in re-imagining financial decision-making.

Project: Local Authorities Socially Investing: Mersey and Cheshire

Grant: £52,900

The aim of this project is to identify the challenges, gaps and opportunities for social investment in Cheshire and Merseyside, so that it can help local organisations play a bigger, more impactful role in the delivery and improvement of the region’s public services.

The project will use the principles of participatory design to involve a wide set of stakeholders and consider how Local Authorities understand these challenges and opportunities. Capacity will utilise the example of Wirral MBC and Liverpool City Region Combined Authority investing in We are Juno CIC as an initial blueprint to explain how Local Authorities and other smaller, local investors have helped drive change in an area of challenging social care. It will take this blueprint and test it with Local Authorities across the region, understanding if and how this could become a model that they replicate.

Challenge Funds, Current Funding

Project: Challenging power with community energy

Grant: £49,900.00

Repowering London will conduct research on their community share offer and explore other options to broaden, deepen and strengthen membership from underrepresented communities. The project will design inclusive community shares and membership offers to make participation in co-operatives more attractive and accessible to all by hiring two locally rooted community researchers.

Challenge Funds, Current Funding

Project: Impact Custodian Investment Committee

Grant: £86,000

This pilot project will focus on the structure of social investment committees, which predominately favours ‘learned experience’ rather than the ‘lived experience’. The project will mitigate the potential for decision-making bias to misjudge the potential risks and returns and will form an Impact Custodian Investment Committee of individuals with relevant lived experience acting as stewards on behalf of their community. The pilot will work with Trust for London to trial using improved assessment criteria and insights that better balance ‘lived experience’ and the ‘learned experience’ of the investment team and due diligence process. Alongside this work, it will assemble a social investor Consortium of 5-7 organisations interested in changing how they make decisions.

Project: De-mystifying social investment through power sharing

Grant: £64,500.00

Stakeholders at major health charities, hospital-based charities, NHS partners, and foundations agree that whilst in-roads have been made into normalising social investment, it remains a mystery to the sector. This comes at a ‘moment in time’ for the sector, following the NHS Confederation’s statement that ‘every ICS should have a portfolio of social investment’ and seeks to get under the bonnet of ‘but how?’ and provide practical tools for key stakeholders to use to make this a reality.

Building on Social Finances work on the Care and Wellbeing Fund, the aim of this project is to increase awareness, understanding and ultimately the use of social investment by the VCSE sector by 1) Sharing open and honest reflections from social finance’s current partnerships with VCSE organisations about what is working well and what could be improved (both for VCSE’s acting as investors and those in receipt of social investment); 2) Creating open-source tools that can be adopted by other intermediaries, support organisations and VCSEs and 3) Hosting a learning event, targeted at NHS ICBs and Hospital Charities, together with pre and post blogs about the social investment journey with Oxford Hospital Charity.

Challenge Funds, Current Funding