Giving Compass’ Take:
• Plum Lomax shares early insights into the success of the Connect Fund in building a better social investment market.
• How can other entities learn from or augment this work?
• Read about making impact investing mainstream.
The Connect Fund was set up in 2017 to improve the social investment market in England—as a partnership between the Barrow Cadbury Trust and the Access Foundation. The fund has carefully identified its role in the ecosystem—what it can and can’t influence—and focuses specifically on strengthening the infrastructure—for example developing shared tools and resources and improving connections and linkages.
Through its provision of finance and support to social investment intermediaries, such as Key Fund or Big Issue Invest, and voluntary sector infrastructure organisations, such as Community Action Suffolk or Disability Rights UK, the Connect Fund promotes collaboration, champions impact and convenes new and existing voices.
Two years after launch, with £2.2m in grants and investments disbursed to 52 projects (out of an overall £6m commitment), the Fund asked NPC to assess the delivery and progress of its programme to date, hear from grantees on what is working well and understand how it could maximise its impact over the lifetime of the fund. It’s too early for a systematic evaluation of the Fund, but we have published an interim learning report.
Although it’s early days, we found the Fund is making great progress. It is particularly valued by its grantees for its approach—flexible funding, a supportive team and encouraging collaboration and connections between grantees.
And it is contributing towards important outcomes to strengthen the market. The extent of this contribution is clearly harder to assess—what is the Connect Fund’s specific role in, for example, increasing diversity within the market or building trust between VCSEs and social investors? But we are confident, through surveys and conversations with grantees, that the Connect Fund has played a role in the headway being made.
That being said, the market still has numerous issues that need addressing, most of which relate directly to front-line VCSEs and therefore are harder for the Connect Fund to influence.
Read the full article about building a better social investment market by Plum Lomax at NPC.
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