Our Approach

Our strategy for providing enterprise development support to the sector from 2018-23

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Across all of its work, Access works with partners to deliver its programmes. If you are charity or social enterprise seeking support, this will be accessed via our delivery partners. Visit our ‘Current Support Programmes’ page for more information.

In 2016-17, Access established three core support programmes: The Reach Fund, the Impact Management Programme and the Connect Fund. 

Building on what we have learned from these programmes, and others which have supported the sector in similar ways, Access is committing £40m to support enterprise development for charities and social enterprises in England for the period 2018-23.

This will provide a broad range of support to help organisations make a transition to new enterprise models, or grow existing ones, with a focus on the models which are best enabled by access to finance, and on enabling organisations to utilise the tool of social investment as part of that transition.

Access is committed to taking a responsive and iterative approach to delivering this programme.

We have given a lot of thought to what it could look like, but funders can easily fall into the trap of over-specifying a programme at the outset and then building something which doesn’t allow for the necessary flexibility to respond to learning. Based on the principles set out below, we will work with a range of partners to develop a menu of support designed to meet the needs of charities and social enterprises.

These principles will drive the design of this programme:

  1. It starts with enterprise: In order to take on and repay investment, in whatever form, enterprising activities which generate a surplus, are a prerequisite. We are therefore looking to support charities and social enterprises who wish to develop or grow new or more diverse income streams.
  2. Charities and Social Enterprises need to ‘learn by doing’…
    In order for organisations to understand fully their potential for diversifying income, including developing trading activity, grant funding should provide them with the resources to test propositions and refine their business models in the light of direct experience.
  3. …and can learn from and with each other.
    There is already great expertise and knowledge within the sector. By drawing on this we can develop the sector’s resilience as a whole. In this way, a balance can be struck between providing specific, bespoke support, and drawing together groups of organisations with similar challenges and opportunities, to learn from and with each other.
  4. Share learning about what works.
    By drawing together and sharing what we already know, and continuing to build on that, we have the opportunity to offer increasingly efficient and effective support. We think that this applies most particularly to the range of business models which have proven to be successful, and increasing the knowledge about how the markets which charities and social enterprises operate within are developing.
  5. Make the form of support fit with the need.
    The predominant form of support offered for investment readiness up to this point has taken the form of consultancy, with a focus on providing analytical services. A greater range of interventions, provided in different ways beyond a consultancy model, need to be tested and refined, with a focus on creative, design-led approaches.

We will develop this programme by working in a number of sub-sectors: our ambition is then to build on what we have learned and broaden our programme out to the wider sector.

Initially, we have chosen to focus on homelessness and youth services. This is because we believe that these sectors have significant untapped potential for enterprise development and therefore a latent requirement for social investment, and it is where we believe we can be particularly additional.

We are taking this sub-sectoral approach because, based on want we have learned from our work so far, we believe that it is the best way to build a practical knowledge base about which enterprise models work best in specific contexts and to provide support which can be appropriately tailored.

You can read our announcement of our 2018-23 strategy here