New collective to look at role of foundations in boosting enterprise

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The Enterprise Grants Taskforce will bring together funders and foundations looking to support the development of earned income across the sector.

A new group of funders and foundations has come together with the aim of boosting enterprise in the sector through better use of Enterprise Grants.

Enterprise Grants are grants made by public or private funders which are used to help charities and social enterprises increase their capacity to earn income from selling services or goods, or reward trading growth.

The work of the Taskforce will combine efforts to define the scope and size of enterprise grants in the UK, as well as identifying best practice and developing detailed plans for scaling the approach, with the sharing of practical insights and approaches.

Initial members of the taskforce include the National Lottery Community Fund, National Lottery Heritage Fund, The Mercers’ Company, Voice4Change England, Power to Change, Lloyds Banking Group, London Funders and more. It will be led by a steering group which includes the School for Social Entrepreneurs, the Association of Charitable Foundations, and Access – The Foundation for Social Investment. 

Carol Mack, Chief Executive of the Association of Charitable Foundations, said:

“Supporting enterprise income makes sense for foundations. It can help build the resilience of the charities and social enterprises that funders seek to support by diversifying their income. It can also help make precious philanthropy go further by targeting grant income at activity which can’t generate earned income. The Enterprise Grants taskforce offers a great platform for more foundations to understand the role that enterprise can play in the sector’s funding ecology and how best to support its growth”

More funders and foundations will be invited to join the group, bringing together those offering dedicated grant products like Match Trading grants as well as those building enterprise activity in their grantees more generally through capacity building programmes, training, and other forms of support.

The steering group are currently in the process of recruiting a chair to lead and represent the taskforce and is seeking candidates with an ability to be a leading voice in the foundation sector, with experience of leading change at a highly strategic level and a strong networker. For more information and to apply, click here.

The new group will build on the work of the Match Trading Taskforce which has been running since 2018. Match Trading grants are a leading example of enterprise grant making. They reward charities and social enterprises who increase their earned income year on year with grants which match that increase. The concept was developed by the School for Social Entrepreneurs and now boasts an impressive evidence base. This demonstrates how match trading can support organisations to acquire customers and support organisations in the sector to become more financially viable enterprises better placed to achieve their social impact.

Match Trading grant recipient, Danny Dawes, Grandads Front Room said:

“I like that the Match Trading grant is empowering and enabling. You don’t feel beholden. If you don’t step up your trading you don’t get the money. The Match Trading money also has given us a cushion. We have managed to do so much more. We now have a bigger van, and we are a month ahead on rent. We now have proper signage. It has upped awareness about us and enabled us to reach more sales.”

Enterprise income has always been a key part of the income mix for the sector. Since the financial crisis it has been the main area of growth, but also significantly impacted by lockdowns to tackle the spread of COVID. With budgets of foundations under-pressure following increased spend during the pandemic, and income from the public sector showing no signs of growth, boosting enterprise income is again a priority for the sector to be able to support growing needs in communities.

Alastair Wilson, Chief Executive of The School for Social Entrepreneurs said:

For me, enterprise grants are the missing piece in the finance jigsaw for trading charities, community businesses and social enterprises. For too long, social purpose organisations have been supported with a binary offer of either grants or loans. The adoption of Match Trading gives a clear sign of the emergence of a new market designed to support the trading endeavours of socially minded entrepreneurial activity working in the most disadvantaged communities.

Seb Elsworth, Chief Executive of Access – The Foundation for Social Investment added:

“Enterprise grant making and social investment and two sides of the same coin. Both are tools to help more charities and social enterprise to boost their trading income and make more impact in communities. This matters because our sector has the unique ability to drive enterprise growth in the most deprived communities in the country, creating jobs as well as social impact where it is most needed. Levelling up the country can only be achieved with trading charities and social enterprises playing their role.” 




Editors Notes

For more details contact or 07855 847 878

A call for proposals on the size and scope of enterprise grants in the UK will be launched shortly.

About The School for Social Entrepreneurs

We help 1,000 people a year develop the skills, strengths and networks they need to tackle society’s biggest problems. We run courses that equip people to start, scale and strengthen organisations that make a positive difference. But we’re not a traditional school. Learning with SSE is inspiring, action-based and accessible. We support people in other ways too, such as funding and mentoring. Lord Michael Young founded SSE in 1997. Today we work internationally, with teams across the UK, Canada and India. Together, we’re changing lives and transforming communities.

About Access – the Foundation for Social Investment

We work to make sure that charities and social enterprises can access the finance they need to sustain or grow their impact.

Through our programmes and our advocacy, we are building the capacity of the social investment ecosystem to provide blended finance and develop resilience within the sector.

About ACF

The Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF) is the membership body for UK foundations and grant-making charities. ACF’s 400 members collectively hold assets of around £50bn and give over £2.5bn annually.