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Social Investment for Small Charities

Thu, 01/12/2016

The Institute of Voluntary Action Research has launched its new report that looks at small charities and social investment. Funded by the Institute for Voluntary Action Research, Barrow Cadbury Trust and Access – the Foundation for Social Investment, and has the support of the Charity Commission, the research explore the ‘user experience’ and reflects on the implications and trends of what smaller operating charities say about the products, processes and obstacles they found on their social investment ‘journeys’. The report focused specifically on charities with an income of under £1million. With the majority of the sector being made up of small and medium sized voluntary organisation including registered charities, they have particularly been affected by the economic recession and cuts to public sector budgets.  Combined with existing research on social investment particularly drawn from the experience of larger to major voluntary organisations, there is a gap in knowledge and understanding of the experience of smaller voluntary organisations.


Some of key findings of the research are that:


  • All of the small voluntary organisations applications for social investment were mission driven: the charity wanted to set up or maintain something that they perceived as central to their ability to fulfil their mission. However, despite being mission driven, some social investment purposes were not well thought through and led the charities into difficulties.
  • Most investors wanted to have a good relationship with the charities they supported. This meant good interpersonal contact, being interested in charities’ mission and activities, and being supportive and helpful around organizational capacity and capabilities. Charities welcomed this but made two points about areas for improvement. That investors lacked familiarity with charities and there needed to be a distinction between good transactions and good relationships.
  • There is a lack of market segmentation to reflect the distinction between the relatively few large and major organisations in the voluntary sector as compared with the relatively greater number of small and medium-sized ones.


To read the full report click here.