Skip to main content

Can new Connect Fund build a better social investment market?

The Barrow Cadbury Trust, in partnership with Access – the Foundation for Social Investment – is launching a £1.8 million Connect Fund for social investment infrastructure in England.

The Connect Fund will provide grants and investments to build a better social investment market in England. Opening its first round of grant funding with expressions of interest today, Monday 5 June, the fund will support intermediaries and infrastructure organisations to make social investment work for a wider, more diverse range of charities and social enterprises.

Charities and social enterprises may require small amounts of affordable finance, particularly as they develop new ways to earn income. Despite having been set up for this purpose, many social investment intermediaries struggle to provide this type of finance.

The Connect Fund seeks to build a better social investment market by:

  • improving the connection of social investment to charities and social enterprises
  • better connecting social investment intermediaries through shared data and resources
  • connecting existing voluntary sector infrastructure organisations to the social investment market

Helen Cadbury, Chair of the Barrow Cadbury Trust said, “As a foundation, our Board and I have deep concerns that much of the social sector is poorly served by the current social investment offer. We look forward to seeing the Connect Fund supporting new solutions.”

The first phase of grants will look at filling the gaps in the infrastructure of the social investment market by supporting collaboration on data management, skill development, sector networks, or other resource solutions.

For example, social investment intermediaries may seek to partner on blended finance, investment readiness, due diligence, staff skills and diversity, communications or marketing.

As well as supporting the sector to advance shared initiatives, the fund will also gather data from social investment intermediaries to evidence the amount and type of investment required to build resilient and sustainable business models.

A second phase of funding will provide feasibility grants for voluntary sector infrastructure organisations to explore models of enterprise-driven solutions with the potential to connect places and sectors to social investment.

Better sharing of tools, data and resources can lower transaction costs, promote diversity and innovation, and facilitate learning and feedback to move social investment forward. This initiative can bring new voices to social investment to improve its connection to the broader needs of the social sector.

A launch event will take place on Wednesday 14 June. If anyone would like an invitation to attend, please contact the Connect Fund Manager, Jessica Brown.