We’re pleased to share that Good Finance is soon to embark on a new project in partnership with NAVCA (the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action) and The Connect Fund. The aim to increase knowledge and understanding of Social Investment within local Infrastructure and the organisations they support.
Tom Watson is the Business & Communications Lead at NAVCA, and is an experienced leader in the charity, social and public sectors. In this blog, Tom shares some of the thinking and considerations around the new project and NAVCA's interest in enabling organisations to learn more about social investment:
Social investment certainly isn't right for every organisation, but ensuring that organisations are able to make informed decisions about what is right for them is vital.
Small charities and social enterprises do amazing things every single day, but running these organisations is hard work
Small charities and social enterprises make up 97% of the non-profit sector and are vital to people and communities across England.
Many are facing a rise in demand for their services, but are also simultaneously concerned about the ongoing challenge of obtaining grants. Social investment can be a useful tool to consider, enabling organisations to diversify their income streams.
The challenge of meeting rising demand with limited / restricted resources
This is one of the many challenges facing small organisations. Many local VCSE have relied upon grants or public sector commissioning to fund their vital work, but with the challenges facing Local Government finances, (£16 billion reduction in funding over the preceding decade and Local services face a £7.8 billion funding gap by 2025), these sources of funding are increasingly restricted. In many cases they’re even prescriptive.
Grants & contracts offer their own challenges
Grants can, in many cases, be the best or only tool for a charity to achieve their aims. However, for a small organisation wanting to change how they work or to do more, grants and contracts offer their own challenges.
As an organisation, NAVCA has long campaigned for grants to support charities to do more good & have more impact. We will continue to campaign for grants, but we believe that Social Investment can be another highly effective tool for organisations to create a bigger impact.
Social Investment can’t replace grants, but in some situations it might be the right tool
In your toolbox of funding & finance, social investment might be the right tool for the job. Social Investment certainly isn’t right for every organisation, but ensuring that organisations are able to make informed decisions about what is right for them is vital.
So we want to ensure that organisations have enough knowledge and feel empowered to make informed decisions for them and ultimately their beneficiaries.
By cutting through the myths and stigma of social investment, and bringing it into everyday conversations for VCSE we can ensure that organisations are able to access information and guidance on all options open to them, from a trusted and locally rooted source.
Working with Good Finance and the Connect Fund
We’re delighted to be working with Good Finance and the Connect Fund on a joint project. The Connect Fund is a £3 million fund of grants and investments which was set up to strengthen the social investment market in England to better meet the needs of charities and social enterprises.
Demand for developing skills and knowledge of Social Investment within Local Infrastructure has seen over half a million pounds of grants being distributed to NAVCA members around the country to support skills, network development and capacity building within local places.
To date, the Connect Fund has distributed £2.2m in grants to support its aims, and the work with NAVCA will help to multiple the impact of these grants by sharing the learning more widely.
Gathering the skills and knowledge to support others
Initially NAVCA will be upskilled to ensure we as an organisation have the skills and knowledge to be able to support our members. We will then work with those members who have already shown an interest in being more involved in Social Investment, including those who may have been unsuccessful with earlier bids to the Connect Fund.
We'll be running a number of informal, peer led events, working with Good Finance to bring Let’s Talk Good Finance events to new areas and new audiences. There’s work already happening within our membership, from organisations like Vonne and other Connect Fund projects. We’ll be learning from this and sharing this learning with our wider membership.
Interested in learning more or taking part?
Throughout this project, we want to bring new knowledge to our membership, and through local voluntary sector organisations. If you’re interested in taking part, please do get in touch.
NAVCA is the only national membership body for local voluntary sector support and development organisations in England. Between them, nearly 200 NAVCA members support over 145,000 local charities and voluntary groups across England
Our members are embedded in communities, offering unparalleled local knowledge, intelligence and relationships. They support local charities, social enterprises and voluntary organisations to be better and do more good.