Accessing funding

We haven’t yet met a social entrepreneur who didn’t need more funding and at the same time most of the funding sources are so hard to access. As well as helping you find the right kind of funding for you, we also try and work with funding organisations to make them more receptive to what you need.

Some of our most recent additions are:

You may also find Podcast 5 useful which covers:

  • The problems with being grant-funded
  • Moving from a "dependent needs-based mentality" to an "independent strengths-based mentality"
  • How to start the process
  • Developing contacts among commissioners
  • Generating income from several different types of customers and organisations
  • Turning creativity into enterprise and business solutions
  • Why there is no shortage of money (but often a shortage of good ideas!)

Click here to access the podcast

If you have suggestions for new content, resources or information, then please pop it in our suggestion box. The current most popular suggestions for this section are:

  • How do I get funding to start up a new business?
  • Where can I get start-up grants from?
  • Accessing venture capital
  • Creating cash-flows and business plans

The following list of funding organisations is from the NHS Networks' Social Enterprise Network:

The Adventure Capital Fund offers a range of investments and support to develop community based enterprises. Its aim is to fill the investment gap that faces community enterprise organisations, and to increase investment-readiness of community organisations wishing to move to greater sustainability through enterprise.

BIGinvest encourages business-like responses to social problems by strengthening, growing and telling the stories of the community finance and social enterprise sectors. It lends directly to social enterprises and to community development finance institutions.

Bridges Community Ventures is the UK's first community development venture capital company, which invests in ambitious businesses in the most under-invested parts of England.

Charity Bank is a bridge between people who would like to have a deposit account that benefits society and organisations that can deliver excellent charitable solutions. It provides affordable loans and advice for charities and community enterprises.

The Community Assets Programme is funded by the Office of the Third Sector and delivered by the Big Lottery Fund. The aim of the programme is community empowerment. It offers capital grants for “third” sector organisations and local authorities to refurbish local authority buildings in England for third sector ownership.

The Community Development Finance Association is the trade association for community development finance institutions. CDFIs are sustainable, independent financial institutions that provide capital and support to enable individuals or organisations to develop and create wealth in disadvantaged communities or underserved markets.

The Co-operative Bank provides financial services while conducting all its business in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.

Co-operative and Community Finance provides loan finance to co-operatives, employee-owned businesses and social enterprises. It raises money primarily by public share issue, and lends it for social purpose and collective benefit.

The Department of Health Social Enterprise Unit has a Social Enterprise Investment Fund is intended to support and encourage the development of a vibrant social enterprise sector in the delivery of health and social care services. Worth £73 million over 2007-2011, the Fund is open to any social enterprise, whether or not a pathfinder.

Equal provides finance to projects which test and promote new means of combating all forms of discrimination and inequalities in the labour market, both for those in work and for those seeking work. One theme is Strengthening the Social Economy, in particular the services of interest to the community, with a focus on improving the quality of jobs.

Futurebuilders England is a Government-backed investment fund to help the voluntary and community sector deliver better public services. It provides a combination of grants and loans for organisations that deliver public services and earn revenue by forming contracts with public sector agencies.

Government Funding is an online portal for the social economy sector from a range of Government Departments, including the Department of Health and the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The Health Innovation Accelerator is run by NESTA and the Young Foundation. It is a new model for speeding up the creation and development of social enterprises in the health sector. Its aim is to stimulate and encourage innovative ideas, wherever they may come from, and to turn those ideas into new ventures that will make as profound an impact as possible on the UK’s health and quality of life.

The latest allocation round of the Invest to Save – Inclusive Communities Budget, with total funds of £13.5 million, focuses on forging stronger partnerships between local authorities and the “third sector” in the development of innovative approaches to service delivery and building fairer communities. The aim is for projects to deliver cash-releasing efficiencies. Closing date: 27 October, 2006.

The Local Investment Fund makes loans to social and community enterprises that have been unable to secure income from traditional sources. By providing loan finance, it enables them to move from grant dependency towards self-sufficiency.

NESTA is the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts. It is the largest single endowment devoted exclusively to supporting talent, innovation and creativity in the UK. Its mission is to transform the UK's capacity for innovation. It invests in early stage companies, inform innovation policy and encourage a culture that helps innovation to flourish.

Philanthropy UK helps to develop new philanthropy by promoting and disseminating knowledge and best practice to all those involved in giving. A key objective is to widen participation in the giving community.

Profunding offers up-to-date news and information to all those involved in raising finance for social economy organisations.

The Section 64 Grants scheme is the Department of Health's main source of funding to the voluntary and community sector (VCS) in England. The scheme is designed to strengthen and further develop the partnership between the Department of Health and the VCS. For the 2008-9 round, applications are invited that clearly focus on the theme of 'making a difference to the quality of people's lives'. The Department seeks innovative proposals of national significance that will complement statutory services, and help secure and promote high-quality health and social care in England. Closing date: 15 August, 2007.

The Social Change: Enterprise and Independenceprogramme, run by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation,aims to enable people and communities facing disadvantage to improve their lives and prioritises those at greatest need. A priority area is Enterprising Communities, to enable people and organisations to be more enterprising and to develop new ways of tackling the needs of those at greatest disadvantage, including through social enterprises to improve their business or social performance.

The Sustainable Funding Project (NCVO) encourages and enables social economy organisations to explore and exploit a full and diverse range of income and finance options to develop a sustainable funding mix to their benefit.

The Third Sector Capacity Building Programme has been et up by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) to increase the involvement of local groups in children's trusts' development and decision-making, and to improve local groups' competitiveness when bidding for children and young people's services contracts.

Triodos Bank is an ethical bank that offers a comprehensive range of banking services for social businesses, charities and groups along with a variety of savings accounts for individuals. It lends money only to organisations and businesses pursuing positive social, environmental and cultural goals.

The UK Social Investment Forum is the UK's membership network for socially responsible investment. Its primary purpose is to promote and encourage the development and positive impact of SRI amongst UK-based investors. UKSIF believes that all material social, environmental and ethical issues should be integrated into standard investment practice.

Unity Trust Bank is a socially responsible bank providing services to the trade union, social enterprise, charity, voluntary, credit union and membership organisation sectors.

Venturesome offers mezzanine finance - loans and investment support that fill the gap between grants and bank loans - to charities and social enterprises.