New taskforce of funders & foundations aims to boost enterprise in nonprofit sector

Melanie May | 4 August 2022 | News

Two men work in front of their laptops. By Scott Graham on Unsplash

Funders and foundations including the National Lottery Community Fund, Power to Change, and The Mercers’ Company have joined a taskforce that will seek to boost enterprise in the sector through better use of Enterprise Grants.

Enterprise Grants are those made by public or private funders to help charities and social enterprises increase their capacity to earn income from selling services or goods, or reward trading growth. 

The Taskforce will define the scope and size of enterprise grants in the UK, identify best practice, develop plans for scaling the approach, and share practical insights and approaches. A call for proposals on the size and scope of enterprise grants in the UK will be launched shortly.

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Carol Mack, Chief Executive of the Association of Charitable Foundations, which is part of its steering group with the School for Social Entrepreneurs and Access – The Foundation for Social Investment, said:

“Supporting enterprise income makes sense for foundations. It can help build the resilience of the charities and social enterprises that funders seek to support by diversifying their income. It can also help make precious philanthropy go further by targeting grant income at activity which can’t generate earned income. The Enterprise Grants taskforce offers a great platform for more foundations to understand the role that enterprise can play in the sector’s funding ecology and how best to support its growth.”

Initial members of the taskforce include the National Lottery Community Fund, National Lottery Heritage Fund, The Mercers’ Company, Voice4Change England, Power to Change, Lloyds Banking Group, and London Funders.

The steering group is currently in the process of recruiting a chair to lead and represent the taskforce, and more funders and foundations will also be invited to join the group. 

The group will build on the work of the Match Trading Taskforce which has been running since 2018.

Alastair Wilson, Chief Executive of The School for Social Entrepreneurs, said:

“For me, enterprise grants are the missing piece in the finance jigsaw for trading charities, community businesses and social enterprises. For too long, social purpose organisations have been supported with a binary offer of either grants or loans. The adoption of Match Trading gives a clear sign of the emergence of a new market designed to support the trading endeavours of socially minded entrepreneurial activity working in the most disadvantaged communities.”

Seb Elsworth, Chief Executive of Access – The Foundation for Social Investment, added:

“Enterprise grant making and social investment and two sides of the same coin. Both are tools to help more charities and social enterprise to boost their trading income and make more impact in communities. This matters because our sector has the unique ability to drive enterprise growth in the most deprived communities in the country, creating jobs as well as social impact where it is most needed. Levelling up the country can only be achieved with trading charities and social enterprises playing their role.”