So what is social investment and is it really relevant to charities especially those that do not have millions of pounds turnover?

Social investment can take many forms, examples of which are:

  • loans – interest-free/paid back with interest;
  • an investment in exchange for shares in your organisation;
  • social impact bonds; and
  • yes, it can be reward-based crowdfunding.

It can also include a blended mix of these examples. However, at its heart, social investment is the provision of money where the “investors” are usually looking for a financial return plus they want to see a positive social change take place as a result of their investment.

Social investment can be a creative way of making money available to a charity.  It can also recycle money – invested in one charity, used, returned to the investor and then invested in a different charity.

Big Society Capital launched the GET INFORMED campaign to help trustees and board members understand the opportunities and risks of social investment. Given that trustees are volunteers, having the time and skills can be a constant barrier when trying to embrace new financial opportunities.

The campaign offers practical support, guidance and information, but most importantly, it shares peer learning through the ‘faces’ of the campaign. These 'faces' are all trustees or non-executive directors who are featured in a number of short videos designed to be shared with fellow trustees or at board meetings.

GET INFORMED offers 100 ‘financial/investment expertise’ mentors to board members in order to build board skills on social investment. The mentoring programme provides at least eight hours of one-to-one knowledge sharing, experience and informal advice over a six to twelve month period. Board members will be matched with someone who has a good knowledge of social investment and understands the roles and responsibilities of charity trustees and social enterprise board directors.

Further information

If you would like more information about the content of this article, please contact  Edwina Turner. To find out how we can help you with charity funding, please visit our website.

This article was written in partnership with Melanie Mills from Big Society Capital.

For more information about the GET INFORMED campaign, including information about being mentored, you can access the free resources here. Or for more information about social investment generally, visit the newly launched Good Finance website, created by social enterprises and charities for social enterprises and charities.

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