A comprehensive report launched today recommends a new approach to support programmes for charities and social enterprises to ensure they focus on long term resilience and sustainability.
The report - Strength in Numbers – is published by Social Investment Business and reviews the investment and contract readiness programmes they have managed on behalf of public funders over the last six years.
According to the report, of the 677 organisations that have been supported through the programmes, almost a third – 245 - have already gone on to raise investment or win contracts worth a total of over £1 billion.
The report also looks at how future programmes could be improved and finds that while they have been undeniably valuable so far, future initiatives could be even more effective with a greater focus on:
- Putting the needs of charities and social enterprises at the centre of the programmes by focusing on improving resilience, not just getting ready for investment.
- Finding new ways to embed knowledge within charities and social enterprises and reducing their dependency on grants and external providers through better peer-to-peer support and use of data.
- Designing new programmes based on evidence of what works. This means delivering multiple interventions and combined packages of support that are built on long-term relationships.
- Taking more account of the wider system in which charities and social enterprises operate. For example, more focus on markets and commissioning and the lived experience of the people the applicants exist to support.
This shift of focus leads to the key recommendation of the review; ditching the term ‘investment readiness’ and adopting a new approach to support programmes for charities and social enterprises that focus on resilience, flexibility and sustainability.
Commenting on the report Nick Temple, Social Investment Business Chief Executive, said:
“The programmes we’ve managed - such as Big Potential or the Investment and Contract Readiness Fund - have helped hundreds of organisations raise investment or win contracts. We applaud both central government and Big Lottery Fund for supporting these programmes and are delighted that so many organisations have been helped to transform how they operate.”
However, we now think it’s time for a change of focus and to put to bed the phrase ‘investment readiness’. Helping organisations get ready to raise investment is a good thing but it shouldn’t be the primary goal.”
The characteristics of ‘investment ready’ organisations such as resilience, flexibility and sustainability are valuable regardless of whether investment is raised or not. Encouraging these traits will help more organisations be in the best position to do what matters most - improving the lives of the people they work with.”
Social Investment Business interviewed over 50 key stakeholders, held regional workshops and drew on financial and application data to inform the review. The report will be the first in a series of publications that Social Investment Business plan to publish in the coming year.
Hazel Blears, Social Investment Business Chair, said:
“I want us to get better at using our data and sharing our experience to help charities and social enterprises get the support they need. This report is crucial in sharing how that support can be provided most effectively. It has never been more important for social sector organisations to build their resilience, their enterprising nature and to make themselves fit for the future.”