Total impact approach

Access takes a total impact approach to its operations, including in investing our endowment.

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This means that we consider the social and environmental impact of all of our work, including the investments we hold within our portfolio.

This Cabinet Office paper details this approach and provides examples from trusts and foundations. We will work with and learn from others who are considering or have adopted this approach and will share findings.

Our Endowment

Our capacity building programme is funded by a £60m endowment we were given by the Cabinet Office in 2015 (this relationship has since moved to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport – DCMS). We will spend this over ten years funding programmes which help charities and social enterprises to engage with the social investment market and become investment ready. £47m has been received to date with the remainder due to be received by Access over the next few years.

Rather than simply holding these funds in the bank before they are given in grants in the later years of Access’s life, The Foundation is seeking to use them to make investments which will achieve as much social impact as possible, before being repaid and then used to make grants.

In defining the impact we are seeking to achieve, we developed a set of priorities for how the endowment should be invested which align closely with our mission of increasing the flow of capital to charities and social enterprises.  

Access’s Director of Finance and Operations, has blogged on the process which the Endowment Working Group went through to develop this approach, as well as regular updates on the composition of our portfolio. We call this the bull’s eye model.

Bull's Eye Impact Framework image

Rathbones manage the endowment for us and invest principally in social and ethical fixed income investments such as charity bonds and other ethical bonds. Over time its ambition is to shift as much as possible of the capital in the endowment to being invested at the centre of the bull’s eye. Given our various constraints (principally how long we can make the investment for) we hope this can rise from around 35% to about 40%. 

We publish updates on the distribution of our endowment across the bull’s eye model in our quarterly dashboards

You can read our blog posts about our endowment investment here

Capital Preservation Fund

In 2018 Access received £10m of funds from dormant accounts to finance our Local Access programme. This money will be blended with around £15m of repayable finance provided by Big Society Capital to provide flexible capital to support the development of enterprise models for charities and social enterprises in approximately five places.

The £10m is managed as a capital preservation fund. Given the differing purpose and source of the £10m from our endowment, it was felt appropriate to manage these two funds separately. The spend of the £10m will be over a shorter period than the endowment and at the time the funds were received the exact timings of spend are relatively uncertain. However to best meet Access’s total impact objectives the Endowment Investment Committee decided to place £5m with Charity Bank and £5m with Triodos Bank. Both are committed to lending to social purpose organisations and we can therefore be assured that the capital preservation fund is strongly aligned to our bull’s eye approach.  

Investment policy statements

Separate investment policy statements have been created for the Endowment and Capital Preservation Fund to make clear that they are two distinct funds with separate intentions. You can download the statements here:

Investment Policy Statement – Endowment Fund

Investment Policy Statement – Capital Preservation Fund

What we buy

Outside of our programmes, Access’s doesn’t buy a huge amount. However, we still seek to apply our total impact approach across our procurement, for example: