Just because it's a Friday and the start of a long bank holiday weekend, I have decided to take a short cut and share an article of mine that has been published this month in Philanthropy Impact Magazine.
However, I doubt very much that this is a magazine that many who are not actively involved in the sector would be aware of, so this is your chance to become acquainted.
The topic I was asked to consider was whether social finance and loans can or will ever fully replace the desire for donations and grants as a means of supporting the work of the voluntary sector.
Here in Oxfordshire that would mean around 4,000 small local charities alone.
With more than almost half of all charities registered with the Charity Commission having an income of £10,000 or less, it would seem to me that we are never likely to achieve this any time soon. Nonetheless, as an organisation we are keen to explore how we might support those for whom it could be appropriate, and for whom social finance would offer the best opportunity for developing and growing the services they are able to provide.
I am enthusiastic about the concept of social investment and its potential for charitable causes to engage with new supporters who are looking to achieve not only a social return but also a financial return. However, I remain to be convinced that social investment will radically displace philanthropy. Recent experience has enabled me to identify differences between the moral imagination of those who choose to gift rather than invest in charitable activity. Now that’s not intended to suggest that the additional accountability and conditions that accompany social investment are demeaning to the voluntary impulse that prefers to trust in the effectiveness of a charity’s work. It is crucial for all charities to take responsibility for evidencing their impact, not only in the spirit of accountability to funders, but also to assess whether or not they are actually making a difference