Access and SIB announce further grants to help charities and social enterprises access social investment

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  • Reach Fund to be extended for at least three more years
  • Over £7m available to support charities and social enterprises in England
  • Programme funds investment readiness work in partnership with social investment providers
  • Pilot over the last two years has proven successful

Access – The Foundation for Social Investment (Access) and Social Investment Business (SIB) have announced that the Reach Fund, the pioneering grant programme which supports charities and social enterprises to take on social investment, will continue for at least a further three years.

Since 2016 the Reach Fund has made grants to almost 220 charities and social enterprises, worth a combined total of £3m. So far 69 of those have gone on to raise investment totalling £17m. The average grant has been just under £14k. Access will make available £7.2m over the next three years to support up to 450 further organisations to access social investment. The fund is available to charities and social enterprises in England.

One of the organisations supported by the Reach Fund is Cycle Penistone CIC, a community bike facility and shop which delivers impact through the provision of inclusive activities for the community. The social enterprise received a £5k grant from the Reach Fund to develop marketing plans and improve internal systems, which enabled them to unlock a £10k investment from Key Fund.

Jill Bramall, Managing Director, Cycle Penistone CIC said:

“More funds such as Reach would be extremely helpful to get social enterprises ready and able for the journey to become self-sustaining. We’re perfect examples of this as our reliance on grant funding has gone from 50% to 10%.”

Managed by SIB and funded by Access, the programme works in partnership with 24 social investment providers, known as Access Points. These Access Points refer charities and social enterprises who have a promising investment proposal, but one which needs further support or development before an investment can be made, into the programme. The Access Points work with the organisation to complete a diagnostic, develop an investment readiness plan and make an application for a grant.

Seb Elsworth, Chief Executive of Access, said:

“The Reach Fund is working in terms of helping more charities and social enterprises to take on social investment. It is working in terms of growing a market for support based around the country which is providing good value for money. It is also working in terms of helping social investment providers expand their reach into the sector and work with a greater diversity of charities and social enterprises.

“We are pleased to be working with SIB to continue the Reach Fund as part of a broad range of support to help charities and social enterprises to become more resilient.”

Access developed the model for the Reach Fund as part of its initial consultation shortly after it was created and commissioned SIB to run a two year pilot in 2016. The design of the programme, focusing on the relationship between the charity and the social investment provider, was in contrast to the model used by historic investment readiness initiatives such as the £20m Big Potential programme funded by Big Lottery Fund and the £13m Investment and Contract Readiness Fund funded by Government.

Learning from the programme so far has highlighted several advantages of the approach:

  • Charites and social enterprises report that they feel in control of the process, being able to shape the way they receive support and from whom.
  • Social investment providers report the Reach Fund has allowed them to work with a broader range of charities and social enterprises, in particular organisations which are women and BME led.
  • The Reach Fund appears to be widening the market for consultancy providers for charities and social enterprises seeking investment readiness support, based around the country. For those using the grants to pay for consultancy support, both grant recipients and the social investment providers have reported that quality of support is high and represents good value for money.

Following a tender process conducted over the summer, Access have appointed SIB to run the Reach Fund for at least a further three years. Charities and social enterprises can find out more about the fund at

Deborah Smart, Head of Grant Programmes at SIB said:

“The Reach Fund is a unique and special fund – one of the few resilience-building grants programmes helping charities and social enterprises to raise investment. We’re delighted to be working with the Access to help social investors provide finance to organisations that they otherwise might not be able to work with.”

Last month Access also announced the launch of its enterprise development programme with pilots focused on the youth and homelessness sectors in England. The programme will offer both grants, managed by SIB, and a learning programme run by School for Social Entrepreneurs.

Elsworth explained how the initiatives fit together:

“The enterprise development programme is designed to help organisations who want to diversify their income and are considering or seeking to grow enterprising activity. As we learn about this approach we are currently focusing this work in the youth and homelessness sectors. The Reach Fund is for any charity or social enterprise actively seeking to take on investment and engaging with a social investment provider.”