The Connect Fund

The Connect Fund has been set up to strengthen the social investment market in England to better meet the needs of charities and social enterprises.  

The fund provides grants to develop shared infrastructure resources for a market that supports mission. The Connect Fund supports tools, partnerships and initiatives that advance a more open and accessible social investment market.

What is the Connect Fund?

The Connect Fund, previously known as the “Social Investment Infrastructure Fund” is a £1.5 million fund for grants and investments that the Barrow Cadbury Trust manages in partnership with Access – the Foundation for Social Investment. The fund supports intermediaries and infrastructure organisations to make social investment work better for a wider range of charities and social enterprises.

The Connect Fund seeks to build a better social investment market by:

  • Improving the connection of social investment to charities and social enterprises
  • Connecting existing voluntary sector infrastructure organisations to the social investment market
  • Better connecting social investment intermediaries through shared data and resources

Our latest funding dashboard provides a snapshot of the types of proposals we received in our first funding round.

What funding is available?

The Connect Fund provides grants and may consider selected investments:

  1. Feasibility grants to test approaches for sectors or places to engage with social investment to explore models of enterprise-driven funding solutions via voluntary sector infrastructure, networks, community foundations or membership bodies.
  2. Grants to address gaps in the architecture of the social investment market. The fund seeks proposals that will foster collaborative, open source solutions for shared benefit. The fund will support a range of organisations with initiatives that include, but are not limited to, themes of: data management; skill development; sector networks; or other shared resource solutions.
  3. Data gathering to evidence demand for investment required by existing social investment intermediaries. To enable them to increase capacity, effectiveness, grow their business or reach new markets, in ways that increases resilience and sustainability.

You can view the launch event presentation to learn more about the Connect Fund.

Who Can Apply and Timescales

The Connect Fund will open for the next round of funding from 2 Oct to 5 Nov 2017. This expression of interest (EOI) will focus on feasibility grants for infrastructure organisations representing sectors or places to engage with social investment in England.

The intent is to allow local CVS infrastructure organisations; membership bodies; and other sector, place or equalities networks to explore models of enterprise-driven funding solutions that support the financial resilience of their membership base.

This will take the form of grants to explore capacity building, brokering, and advice or new initiatives to advance pathways to social investment.

The Connect Fund is not intended for frontline charities or social enterprises working directly with beneficiaries. If you would like more information about social investment please see Good Finance. For programme grant funding, please refer to the main Barrow Cadbury Trust website.

Further funding rounds will be held according to the table below:

If you are thinking of applying, please read our funding guidelines. The fund seeks proposals that will foster partnership, collaboration, and open source solutions for shared benefit in the social investment market in England.

How to Apply

Step 1: Complete a short online enquiry form.

Step 2: We will review all EOIs and get back to applicants following the close of the funding period.

Step 3: Selected applicants will be asked to submit a full application form.

Step 4: We will assess the full grant applications, and may ask you for further information.

Step 5: Final decisions will take place at the Barrow Cadbury Trust Investment Management Committee.

If, following submission of the initial enquiry form, you are invited to make a full application, the assessment and decision process may take up to four months.

Investment: Please complete our investment survey for existing social investment intermediaries to provide data on the type, amount, and purpose of funding required.

Further Information

If you would like to receive updates about the Connect Fund please email Sian Williams to have your name added to the mailing list.

The Connect Fund Manager is Jessica Brown.  You can email her directly with questions relating to your application or submission to the fund.

You can also follow The Connect Fund on Twitter.

A separate Connect Fund website is in development and will be live in Autumn 2017.