Lesson One – Resilience

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Resilience has become a buzz word in the sector and it can mean different things to different organisations. Access has therefore taken the time to reflect on what it means for us and our partners.

Access is the Foundation for Social Investment and we were established in 2015 to improve access to Social Investment. But Social Investment itself is not an end-goal. Its importance lies in being a tool which helps organisations to become more resilient, and it has become clear to us over the last five years that helping charities and social enterprises become more resilient is the fundamental purpose of Access.

By resilience, Access means that organisations are financially more self-reliant and with it have the ability to better plan for the future; withstand shocks and seize on opportunities. Practically, how this manifests itself is that the organisations we support might be less reliant on short term restricted funding; might have diversified their income; might have a stronger balance sheet; might be earning more of their own income through enterprise activity; and might have readier access to the finance needed.

Access is the Foundation for Social Investment – so the social impact is important too. We’re only seeking to increase resilience so that charities and social enterprises can continue to deliver their impactful work. But what Access has learned is that when it comes to measurement of our impact Access can’t claim to be generating the social impact, rather facilitating it to happen by supporting the resilience of charities. In our experience, Impact is not a good measure for us because we shouldn’t take credit for the difference the underlying organisations make.  

We are one part of a movement of other funders and foundations working towards improving resilience in the charity and social enterprise sector. Our aim is that by working together, our combined contribution can become greater than the sum of our parts. Perhaps measurement is a good starting place to come together.  

If you’d like to hear more and explore this topic further – please have a listen to Access’ first podcast here.

In this podcast, Sarah Colston (Director of Learning at Access) is joined by:

  • Jaishree Mistry – Head of Grants and Investments – Homeless Link
  • Rob Williamson – CEO Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland & Access Trustee 
  • If you have any comments or would like to discuss anything further – please contact sarah.colston@access-si.org.uk