There is so much hype about social investment these days that I sometimes expect those of us who work in the field to be able to walk on water. The social investment market is set to explode; social investment is set to become a new asset class; social investment gets to places that even Marmite cannot reach!
It’s nice to hear some sensible, informed advice from Stephanie Sturrock, new Social Investment Director at Charities Aid Foundation. “It’s important that charities don’t think of social investment as a substitute for grant funding – it’s very different” she says. “In order to access social investment, you need to have a viable income stream and grant funding is the income stream – and that’s disappearing. Social investment requires the charity to think very differently about its business model and create alternatives to traditional grant funding……. The most important thing a charity must do when thinking of taking a loan or investment is get the business plan right.” You can read the full interview on the Guardian’s website at http://www.guardian.co.uk/voluntary-sector-network-caf-partner-zone/stephanie-sturrock-caf-interview?INTCMP=SRCH
That advice is not rocket science, but it seems to be overlooked by those who think that they can cut grant and contract funding without having any effect on service delivery. Isobel Spencer, trustee of My Voice London spells out the impact in another Guardian article http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/jul/10/lose-vital-community-organisations. She reckons that the 5,000 UK charities with income between £100,000 and well under £1 million will be hardest hit. “They deliver social services into the community – and focus on the hardest-to-reach and most disadvantaged people.” They are the most dependent on statutory funding which is shrinking fast. NCVO chief executive Sir Stuart Etherington says that we are in danger of “knocking out the capacity that will build the government’s big society.”
Dominic Cotton of @UKYouth made the point on BBC Radio 4 this morning “These#youthclubs are still hanging by a thread… the way in which they’re funded is not sustainable.”
Joni Mitchell said it all; “Don’t it always seem to go; That you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.”