What is Social Investment and is it right for your organisation?

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Social investment is the use of repayable finance to help an organisation achieve a social purpose. It normally comes in the form of a loan, sometimes blended with a grant, in addition, many investors will provide practical help with developing your business as well.

Charities and social enterprise can use repayable finance to help them increase their impact on society, for example by growing their organisation, providing working capital for contract delivery, or buying assets.​​

A classic example would be buying a building which might give you more space, reduce your rental costs and increase your income as you rent it out to other groups. The surplus is then used to repay investors.

Social investment is repayable, often with interest. Charities and social enterprises may generate a surplus through trading activities, contracts for delivering public services, grants and donations, or a combination of some or all of these.

Social investment is not suitable for everyone, and it should be considered alongside other options. It’s important to look at the range of finance options available to your charity or social enterprise before deciding. There needs to be a realistic plan of how the money will be repaid. 

Social investment is not a grant or a donation, although some investors offer blended finance which is a combination of loans and grants. The investors want to see a return on their money so they can re-lend the money to other groups to help them grow as well.

The website Good Finance has lots of useful information, guides and links to possible investors.

Some examples of local funders include:

First Ark social investment

First Ark

First Ark provides flexible, unsecured, blended capital with wraparound support for social businesses, voluntary organisations and charities across the North West. The fund looks to enable charities and social enterprises to grow, sustain and succeed. They provide pre-application and post-investment support for the life of the investment.

They are also an Access Point for a grant programme which offers support to help charities and social enterprises become ‘investment ready’. They work with you to identify your needs, develop an ‘investment readiness’ plan and apply for the grant.

Most recently they have started offering investment loans which provide capital support to social businesses at an early stage in their growth.

Find out more.

GMCVO social investment

GMCVO - GM Social Investment

GMCVO is the VCSE sector infrastructure organisation for Greater Manchester and is offering blended finance of between £10,000 - £50,000.

The GM Social Investment fund is designed to help organisations grow and to grow their social impact. The programme is aimed at social enterprises, charities and other organisations in Greater Manchester who address social needs, strengthen communities, improve people’s life chances, enhance culture or protect the environment.

Find out more.

coop logo

Co-Op Foundation

The Co-op Foundation offers a blend of loans and grants for enterprising ideas to improve community spaces

If your organisation owns or manages a community space and is thinking about growing its trading activities to generate more sustainable income, they might be able to help your plans take off. They can offer loans towards viable business ideas which will benefit the whole community - particularly those facing greater challenges. If you are based in a more deprived area, or your work mainly benefits more disadvantaged members of the community, they might also be able to offer some grant funding alongside a loan.

Find out more.

Key Fund

Key Fund

Key Fund's mission is to provide the right kind of money at the right time for the development and growth of sustainable and impactful community and social enterprises which are unable to secure support from elsewhere.

They provide finance – both loans and grant/loan packages – to help community and social enterprises to start-up, become sustainable, or grow. It’s not just about the money. It’s also about providing the right kind of support to help investees have the best possible chance of success. Their investees have one crucial thing in common – the ambition to build and strengthen local communities and create a positive impact.

They invest in community and social enterprises who have traditionally been excluded; turned down by mainstream banks and building societies. Particularly those in disadvantaged areas.

Find out more.

Reach Fund

Reach Fund

Reach Fund is a grant programme which helps charities and social enterprises raise investment. Social investors are often approached by charities and social enterprises who require extra support to raise investment.

Through this programme, social investors can refer these organisations to the Reach Fund to apply for grants to pay for the support they need. You can apply for grants of around £15,000.

You can only apply for a grant through this programme following a referral from an Access Point. If you are interested in social investment you should still apply to an Access Point, or another social investor, as normal. Then, if your Access Point refers you to the Reach Fund you can begin your application. The organisations above are all Access Point.

Find out more.

Support from Salford CVS

If you need to talk through your idea for social investment or more information about the options please call the Development Team on 0161 787 7795 or email Development@salfordcvs.org.uk to arrange a meeting.

Salford CVS
Author: 
Jeremy Engineer, Development Worker

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Salford CVS is the city-wide infrastructure organisation for the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector; providing specialist information, advice, development support and opportunities for influence and collaboration.

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