Sumerian Foundation

Sumerian Foundation

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.