The COVID-19 pandemic is first and foremost a public health emergency. It also provides great challenges for all organisations – but perhaps especially for charities and social enterprises and the vulnerable people they support. Many organisations in our portfolio are racing to adjust their service delivery for the new environment while facing significant uncertainty on their revenue and future.
Three weeks ago, we set out our priorities to help support organisations through this and want to keep you updated:
Our social investor and social enterprise COVID-19 hubs are receiving significant traffic and are updated regularly. The Good Finance funding page now has over 50+ crisis grant programs listed for over £500 million. While each has specific requirements and details of others are still emerging, there may be useful grants there for your organisation and there is lots of other useful information too.
Adjusting existing funding
We’ve now worked with all our fund managers to make changes to help their investees. Our drawn social impact portfolio roughly splits 40/40/20 between lending, infrastructure (social property and community renewables) and equity & outcomes funding – supporting more than 1,200 organsiations. Our lending funds have been more negatively impacted and will also be the most active in delivering the emergency response. All are now offering capital and interest rate holidays where appropriate and many are offering shortterm bridge loans.
Across our portfolio, fund managers are contributing to the crisis response. For example in our Community Owned Renewable Energy program with Power to Change, the manager Environmental Finance has brought forward local community benefit payments which were due to pay out in future and is targeting them now to provide emergency grants to organisations affected by COVID-19.
Exploring new funding
We know the investment need is urgent, so we are aiming to invest first to establish structures, while starting discussions with others about committing additional money alongside ours. As with all funders in this environment, we are aiming to radically shorten timelines to get capital flowing as quickly as possible.
As mentioned previously, we are prioritising two initial routes for emergency loans, both using the Coronavirus Business Loan Interruption Scheme (CBILS):
- A central facility managed by the Social Investment Business (SIB) – delivered by a broader range of social investors targeting charities and social enterprises.
- Ensuring our Community Investment Enterprise Fund (managed by Social Investment Scotland) - which targets lending in deprived areas - can work effectively with CBILS to provide emergency loans
We hope to confirm British Business Bank accreditation of the SIB facility shortly, and are aiming to open for applications next week.
We expect to learn a lot in the deployment of these initial emergency facilities and will use that and discussions with partners to determine what further emergency response and recovery investments are needed.
We know significant grants and business support are needed alongside investment, so we are in active discussions with grant makers to try and ensure our programs complement theirs. We have also joined many in the sector, led by NCVO, in making the case to government for the urgent need for a more significant grant program for charities and social enterprises.
We are also advocating where other types of investment are needed – for example government bridge funds for venture start-ups as have been announced in other countries.
Charities and social enterprises are so diverse, there can’t be a single solution to the challenges they’re facing - instead they need a coordinated jigsaw of solutions. We are doing our best to play our role as a piece in this puzzle and working with many others to help support organisations through this national crisis.