We know that charities and social enterprises have always played a vital role in communities. Over the last decade their importance – and our reliance on them – has grown hugely as austerity has depleted the budgets available to local governments to deliver much needed services.
With the current financial landscape making fundraising an ever greater challenge, Access Foundation is working to make charities and social enterprises in England more financially resilient and self-reliant, so they can sustain and increase their impact. It is supporting enterprise development activity to help organisations identify how they can diversify their income and improving access to social investment to enable this to happen.
The Connect Fund has an important role to play in this work by supporting the infrastructure of the social investment market. When it comes to the voluntary sector infrastructure organisations, we have worked with anchor institutions to test the ways they can build knowledge around social investment and embed skills to support enterprise development. We have encouraged shared learning and collaboration to ensure that the work we’ve supported reaches beyond the initial projects delivered by our grantees. This includes linking local infrastructure to existing national resources such as Good Finance.
We are working with the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA) to embed the learning from the Connect Fund and expand the reach of resources developed by other grantholders. As the membership body for local infrastructure organisations in England, NAVCA has a unique insight into the challenges the sector faces and a responsibility to ensure high quality support is available locally. It serves nearly 200 member organisations embedded in communities, which provide advice and support to over 145,000 local charity and voluntary groups.
NAVCA will be providing training to its membership, as well as working in partnership with the Good Finance team from Big Society Capital to deliver a programme of Let’s Talk Good Finance workshops. Through this work, NAVCA will become an important source of information on social investment for local infrastructure organisations.
The Connect Fund, NAVCA and Good Finance will be hosting a webinar on 4th September at 3pm to share a range of free resources to help infrastructure organisations talk about resilience, sustainability and enterprise and where social investment fits in. Connect Fund grantees and NAVCA members will receive an invite to register shortly.
Liz Hayes, Connect Fund Assistant Manager