Groundwork South Yorkshire (GSY) was funded by the Connect Fund to work with small voluntary, charity and social enterprise sector organisations to encourage them to think about how social investment could play a part in their plans for development and growth.
The project focused on four key strands:
- Researching the demand for social investment locally and the types of product needed;
- developing the skills of VCSE senior managers and their Boards, so they can make informed decisions about social investment as a funding option;
- creating links between social investors and VCSE organisations; and
- increasing the number of organisations identifying suitable SI products to apply for.
GSY began this work by speaking with social investors and local business support agencies to understand the key barriers and challenges that they felt VCSEs saw when considering social investment. The responses were familiar – the application process is considered to be lengthy and burdensome, the size of investment available doesn’t always match the need, and a move towards borrowing is seen as a step-change by many small VCSEs more comfortable with grants and donations.
Over the course of the project, the team at GSY worked closely with a small cohort of organisations through a series of group and one-to-one skill development sessions, successfully supporting them on their journey towards taking on social investment.
A social investment roundtable, held as part of the project, brought together the demand and supply sides. They were encouraged to ask questions to each other and allowed to speak openly about their needs in terms of both product and process. This helped to build relationships between social investors and potential investees, and importantly to develop trust.
Read the full evaluation of the project.