The current Coronavirus pandemic is not only presenting significant risks to people’s health, but may also threaten the financial sustainability of many social enterprises, charities and the vital services they provide.
As so often, it will be the most vulnerable in our society that will suffer the most with demands on charities and social enterprises work increasing. We all have responsibilities – as individuals and organisations – to help tackle these threats and only through collaborating and communicating openly will we effectively manage the challenges ahead.
At Big Society Capital we are responding in the following three ways:
- Sharing information
While the situation is changing fast, it is already clear the patterns of work and revenues of many organisations we support are going to change significantly. We are sharing information across our portfolios to help organisations consider their own actions and sharing examples of pre-emptive actions being taken to changing circumstances. We are encouraging organisations to move early, to give themselves the most options for adapting their work. We will share information on emerging new support sources available, including from government, and are establishing a page for this on the Good Finance website.
- Adjusting existing funding
We invest in many ways, for example through lending funds, social banks, venture funds or social property funds. How we respond will depend on the social enterprise needs, the investment type and the other investors alongside us in funds. In all areas though, we know a clear and early answer is needed on what is possible in this environment, so charities and social enterprises can evaluate their options. We are therefore in urgent discussions with managers and investors across our portfolios on our collective approach. As a first step we have put out this statement on Good Finance today along with many partners.
- Exploring new funding
The funding needs for charities and social enterprises through this period will be significant, and much greater than current resources. We know that grants and business support will be the most vital here. Investment will also have an important role to play and we are opening discussions with other potential funders, including government. For example, we are in discussions to ensure that the commitments made in the Budget to support business are matched for the charity and social enterprise sector. Our aim is to ensure the established social investment infrastructure can simply and effectively deliver all new support to those organisations who need it. If you are interested in working with us on new funding routes do get in touch with me.
In addition, as with all companies, we are focused on safeguarding our staff to maintain our service while minimising risks. We have been building our guidance here with others in the sector, do get in touch if you are interested in sharing approaches.
We realise that this extraordinary situation is likely to change rapidly over the coming weeks and the challenges will continue for some time. We are committed to doing our best to support the charity and social enterprise sector and those they serve. We also need your help, as our partners and investees will usually know best and first what action or support is needed. So please don’t hesitate to contact us here at Big Society Capital with information, advice or updates which we can share with others. Only together can we stand and fight back effectively against this unprecedented threat.