Sumerian Foundation

Sumerian Foundation

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.