The social investment market is set for a £60m boost through two separate initiatives.
The philanthropist Paul Marshall will donate £50m to launch a new programme for social entrepreneurs, while the Access Foundation and Social Investment Business (SIB) have announced plans to give an extra £10m to the Reach Fund which supports social enterprises.
Independent analysis of the Reach Fund, published today, shows that in the last two years £5m in grants have helped leverage nearly £40m into the social investment market.
Marshall: I want to support ‘visionaries’
Marshall’s donation will be used to launch the Marshall Impact Accelerator programme, based at the philanthropy school named after him at the London School of Economics (LSE).
The money will be used to make grants backing “innovative social ventures”, according to a statement from Marshall and the LSE. The programme will launch in the spring next year.
Marshall said: “We live in a constantly evolving world, and if we want to overcome the challenges we face, we need to embrace brand new ways of thinking, now more than ever.
“This donation to create the Marshall Impact Accelerator will support visionaries from every continent, as they create groundbreaking new innovations and change the world.
“I can’t wait to see what they come up with.”
The search for ‘impact unicorns’
Stephan Chambers, the director of the LSE’s Marshall Institute said: “As the world begins to turn away from a focus on ‘making things people want’ towards ‘making things people need’, the scaling up of social impact projects through the Marshall Impact Accelerator will accelerate this trend.
“Our aim is to create ‘impact unicorns’ — organisations improving billions of lives.”
A spokesperson for Marshall said that the donation would be made through his charity, The Sequoia Trust. The Trust currently holds more than £250m, according to its latest filings with the Charity Commission.
Investment in the Reach Fund
Meanwhile, Access and SIB have announced an extra £10m investment in the Reach Fund over the next four years.
The Reach Fund has made around 600 small grants worth over £8.5m since 2016, to support charities and social enterprises in England with issues including business planning and financial forecasting. The new cash is intended to help up to 1,000 more organisations build their financial resilience and prepare for greater social investment in the future.
An independent evaluation of the programme, which looked at grants made between October 2018 and December 2020, found that £1 spent through the Reach Fund helped organisations raise £7 of investment.
Grants worth £5.2m helped organisations raise £38.5m in further investment, the evaluation said. The average grant was worth £13,500.
More than four in 10 grants from the Reach Fund went to organisations in the 30% most deprived areas of England. The evaluation also showed that social enterprises with Black and ethnic minority leaders were less likely to succeed in applying for grants, as were LGBT+ and disabled leaders.
Access: Future focus on marginalised communities
Neil Berry, the director of programmes at Access, said: “The independent evaluation shows that the Reach Fund is a cost-effective, flexible, and responsive investment readiness programme, that is proven to make charities and social enterprises more resilient by getting investment deals over the line.”
He added: “It’s great that Access is able to extend this programme and continue opening up investment to charities and social enterprises that would not otherwise be able to access it.
“While the fund is successful in getting to parts of the country that have not benefited from this type of this investment in the past, there is more to do to ensure that the programme is serving marginalised communities to the same degree.
“Alongside our partners we will have a particular focus on this as we look to the next phase of the Reach Fund.”
The latest report from SEUK is fascinating, as much for the questions it provokes as the ones it answers