Borrowing for Sustainability? A masterclass

Olof Williamson was a Senior Consultant at NCVO, looking at the latest thinking on funding, finance and public services. Olof has left NCVO and his posts have been retained for here for reference.

On 27 September I spoke at a great event at NCVO, co-hosted with Unity Trust Bank’s Andrew Jesson. The topic was “Borrowing for Financial Sustainability”. The aim was to bring to life how voluntary organisations can use different forms of finance to achieve their organisational goals.

Andrew spoke from his experience of having set up loan finance arrangements for many organisations over the years. These ranged from mortgages to working capital to tide over gaps in cash flow. Andrew’s biggest message was to put a solid amount of time and effort into the business plan, including the background research. Effective business planning enables you to really understand how the finances stack up and whether you will be able to pay back a loan.

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Bringing loans to life

To illustrate we heard from Avis Turner of charity Basics Plus, who have made use of a loan to develop a failing visitor attraction into a thriving social enterprise, Betton Farm. This enabled Avis’ organisation to hugely extend their activities for people with disabilities, and helped Basics Plus become an even stronger part of Scarborough’s community.

It was a really inspiring story of how a bit of creativity and a lot of hard work can create lasting benefits. To get inspired yourself there is a picture gallery on the Betton Farm website.

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A broader view of investment

Finally, I spoke about a range of different social investment methods that are available for voluntary organisations. I picked a selection to illustrate the sheer diversity, from Social Impact Bonds to Community Shares, to Venture Philanthropy. All of these and more are discussed on our tool Social Investment Made Simple.

We are planning more seminars and masterclasses for next year, so if you have a hot topic you would like us to cover, do get in touch.

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