Access publishes new Impact Report detailing approach to aligning money with mission

Access’s 2022 Endowment Impact Report sets out how we have successfully combined social and environmental impact with financial return.

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Access – The Foundation for Social Investment (‘Access’) has published its latest impact report looking at the investment of their endowment, the social and environmental impact it has generated and the financial return.

Access was given a £60 million endowment by Government in 2015 to spend over ten years on funding programmes which help charities and social enterprises to engage with the social investment market and become investment ready. The endowment was originally given by the Cabinet Office and is now overseen by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport following the relocation of The Office for Civil Society in 2016.

Access takes a ‘total impact’ approach to managing all of their work, including the investments they hold within their treasury. Put simply, this means they look at all the different ways they can achieve impact, including aligning the management of their assets with their impact and mission.

Access worked with investment managers, Rathbones Group Plc (‘Rathbones’), to target finance to socially and environmentally focused organisations via their “bull’s eye model”, while delivering the financial returns and cash flow they need to fund their grant making. Where possible and within certain set parameters, Access wants to invest as much as possible in charities and social enterprises delivering social impact in the UK.

  • 54% of Access’s endowment is invested in organisations delivering social impact, including 34% that is directly invested in UK charities and social enterprises. The remainder is invested in organisations which have best in class ESG indicators.
  • Despite wider economic challenges, the Access portfolio managed by Rathbones has outperformed market benchmarks, achieving a total weighted return (after fees) of 7.37% (to December 2022).

For the first time, Access has reported against the carbon footprint of its portfolio. This provides a snapshot of the carbon intensity of the underlying investments and shows Access’s financed emissions via the portfolio.

The Endowment Impact report, which maps the impact of Access’s underlying investments into one of eight social and environmental themes, is being launched at an event hosted by EIRIS Foundation, Access and Friends Provident Foundation and attended by over 90 charities and foundations. It reveals that the fund’s investment in organisations has supported a range of interventions including:

  • A more inclusive society and economy: including management of 124 social housing properties
  • Improved health outcomes: including the provision of mobility solutions to 55 disabled people, support or accommodation to 67 people with learning disabilities and healthcare services for 490 people
  • Positive climate action and energy security: including renewable energy generation to power 136 average UK homes

This includes investment in organisations like Greensleeves Care who issued a charity bond in 2017 to raise £50 million to help expand the number of properties it manages and the number of care spaces it can offer. Between 2018 and 2022, Greensleeves increased its capacity from 872 care spaces across 22 care homes to 1,245 spaces across 27.

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, the Rt Hon Lucy Frazer KC MP, said “I am delighted to see Access continues to maximise every pound of investment funding by supporting charities and social enterprises to deliver social impact in their communities.

Since being established with a £60m endowment from Government in 2015, Access has clearly shown that it is possible for endowments to combine deep social impact alongside financial returns.”

Gemma Cartwright, Head of Investment Practice and Partnerships at the Association of Charitable Foundations said:

“This report is a great example of a foundation being transparent by communicating its approach to managing its endowment. Prioritising mission when setting investment objectives, and pursuing transparency are both aspects of excellent investment practice as set out in our Stronger Foundations investment report.”

Chair of the Endowment Investment Committee at Access, Martin Rich said:

“Now eight years into a ten-year spend-down fund– we can confidently demonstrate that it is entirely possible to align money with mission and deliver financial return alongside social and environmental impact. Our new impact report details the approach we’ve developed with Rathbones and the knowledge we’ve gained during this process.

While this portfolio is tailored to suit the needs of Access and a spend-down fund, we firmly believe that the process we have been through to define our impact goals and align with our financial needs is one which will work for many other foundations.”

Find out more about Access’s total impact approach here. 

Read the 2022 Endowment Impact Report here.