Unravelling the mysteries of social investment

Jess Farr was Sustainable Funding Officer at NCVO. She left in September 2012, but we have retained her blog posts for reference.

The Sustainable Funding Project’s latest seminar, held on 10th March 2011, featured four leading figures in the growing field of voluntary and community loan finance. Billed as a “gentle introduction” to social investment for people who had heard the term but weren’t sure how it could apply to their organisation, this event sparked a lot of interest and a lively Q&A session afterwards.

Carry on reading to see who was there, and listen to some of the things they had to say. Sadly, not all of the recording from the day was noise free, so we’ve extracted some of the highlights from the day rather than give you the whole of our excellent speaker’s presentations.

Malcolm Hayday, our chair for the day, is the Chief Executive of The Charity Bank Limited, the UK’s first general charity to be authorised as a bank. He is a member of the International Advisory Committee of NESsT, the non profit enterprise and self-sustainability team, and the Advisory Group for NCVO’s Sustainable Funding Project. Malcolm has more than 30 years experience in business finance. Amongst many other things, he joined CAF in 1993 to establish the loans service for charities, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts.

John Kingston is the founder Director of CAF Venturesome at the Charities Aid Foundation. He gave us an excellent introduction to how social investment works through his organisation, as financial investment that gives a mixture of financial and social return. He spent some time drawing out the differences between philanthropy, social investment, and standard financial investment.

Listen to John talk about the need to move beyond receiving loan finance from trusts and foundations to individuals.


Tim Jones is CEO of Allia Ltd (formerly Citylife), an exempt Industrial & Provident Society which aims to catalyse activities across society that give people a better future. He talked about how Allia was first set up to raise funds for projects in different cities working to tackle unemployment and disadvantage. He explained how Allia developed their unique charitable bond mechanism as a way of raising more money for those projects than they could have got through donations alone. You can find out more about how this works on Allia’s website.

Listen to Tim answer questions on

• Why organisations choose to invest for social and financial return


• Whether smaller lenders might invest in Allia’s bonds


Tom Hall is Head of Philanthropy and Social Investment at Scope where he developed the widely reported Grangewood Venture Philanthropy project. Tom explained Scope’s unique approach to loan finance from supporters and talked us through the funding structure of the Grangewood project. He has also written an excellent blogpost on this topics for us, which you can read here. There will be a part 2 to this blogpost as well, so keep your eyes peeled for the next installment.

Listen to Tom answering questions on

• How to encourage investment from individuals


• Whether people will lend as well as give

The Sustainable Funding Project is very grateful to Charity Bank for sponsoring this event.

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Jess Farr,
Sustainable Funding officer

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