Last week we had the second meeting of the steering group for this project to develop improved information services for charities and social enterprises exploring their options for finance and investment.

We agreed that to keep everyone informed of our progress, one of the steering group members will share a short blog after each meeting – it was my suggestion so I get to go first!

For Access this project represents one of the four strands of our initial strategy for our capacity building programme, and is seeking to address a need which came through clearly in the consultation we ran last year –

“Make the information simple, downscale and get the information into just one space.”
Alan Ellis, Doncaster Deaf Trust

So we’re really pleased to be involved. Working with Big Society Capital and our other collaborators – and our shared commitment to thoroughly testing our ideas with potential users as we go - gives me confidence that we’ll build useful, relevant services which make judicious use of digital, and also make the best use of what already exists. On the latter, our meeting began with discussing the library of resources we’ve pulled together so far – you can see the full list here. This will no doubt continue to grow as the project develops, and do get in touch with Kieran Whiteside with suggestions if there’s anything we’ve missed.

As it builds, it will also be a task for us to look at how this library can be most usefully presented and categorised, to quickly direct users to a small set of choices relevant for their situation. The majority of our discussion yesterday centred on specifying who these potential users should be – considering a number of characteristics, including turnover, legal form and knowledge/experience of investment and finance. This is an important process as it will enable us to focus our efforts on understanding and meeting the needs of a known, defined audience of users. We’ll be sharing an initial definition coming out of where we landed yesterday, and again, would welcome any feedback.

Between now and our next meeting in April, the focus will be on getting started with in-depth user research, so we can ground our initial prototypes in a solid understanding of their needs and preferences. In the meantime, do share any questions, suggestions or requests you have at this stage.

By Ed Anderton, Strategy and Policy Manager, Access Foundation