What we do

Access works to make charities and social enterprises in England more financially resilient and self-reliant, so that they can sustain or increase their impact.

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We do this through supporting the development of enterprise activity to grow and diversify income, and improving access to the social investment which can help stimulate that enterprise activity.

Access will be around for a decade, but the need for this work will continue well beyond that. So our approach is to work through others to create partnerships which can outlive us, test and learn from new approaches, and generate knowledge which improves the work of others seeking the same goals.

We are entering the second phase of Access’s ten year life. We have learned a great deal from our first few years, and we are ready to make a significant and ambitious commitment to deploy the majority of our endowment over this main middle phase of our life.

Over the next five years (2018-2023) we will have three strands to our work:

  1. Providing £40m to support a broad range of enterprise development activities in partnership with other foundations, social investors, sector infrastructure bodies and enterprise advisors. This support will help charities and social enterprises to earn more of their own income and specifically develop business models which can be further supported through utilising social investment.
  1. Managing and promoting blended finance models which bridge the gap between charities and social enterprises on one side and social investors on the other. These models help make the social investment easier to find and more relevant for charities and social enterprises, and help social investment reach parts of the sector which are yet to benefit.
  1. Learning from our programmes and listening to the changing investment needs of the sector in order to influence our future work and that of others who support charities and social enterprises; and building systems which make that knowledge easier to understand and use for the long term.

We were created in 2015 with the support of our founding partners the Big Lottery Fund, Big Society Capital and the Cabinet Office. Responsibility for civil society within government has since moved to the department for culture, media and sport (DCMS). 

For current operational data about all of our programmes, have a look at our latest quarterly dashboard.

Our context and the role we hope to play

Although we have significant resources at our disposal, Access is a relatively small organisation and one which will only be around for ten years. To have real impact we must work with and through others who share our broad goals, to help charities and social enterprises to be more resilient in order to sustain or achieve greater impact.

A diagram showing Access as a small bubble next to other larger bubbles, marked 'Social Investors, Intermediaries, Charities and Social Enterprises and People and Communities

Access has a small team; central to our approach is to work with partners to deliver our impact. This is because those partners are much better able to work with the breadth and diversity of the charity and social enterprise sector than we could on our own. 

We therefore deliberately take a network leadership approach. In serving the needs of charities and social enterprises, we see our key collaborators as:

  • Other funders and foundations
  • Sector networks and membership bodies
  • Specialist consultancy and advisory organisations
  • Social investors and intermediaries

If you are interested in discussing the potential for collaboration, please get in touch via email, or on Twitter.