It was a real pleasure to attend the “Meet the Social Funder” event as part of Fife Business Week. For those that read my blogs on a regular basis, you will know that I have a particular interest in alternatives to mainstream financing (be it angel funding, peer to peer lending or local grassroots initiatives).
The “Meet the Social Funder” event was aimed at those working for organisations where public benefit, rather than profit, is the primary objective. In an era of austerity and cuts then most organisations with social objectives can no longer rely solely on grant funding from local or national governments and should, where they can, look to more sustainable community based funding models.
Charity Bank markets itself as “a bank for good” – given the last decade of banking scandals then this sounded too good to be true. To my surprise, Charity Bank really does seem like a bank with social values at its core because it is run and owned by social purpose organisations. In Scotland, it has provided loan funding for Govan Workspace, a community-based social enterprise aiming to provide regeneration in an area of high deprivation. The funding from Charity Bank helped to purchase and refurbish a former shipyard building which Govan Workspace now rents out as offices at affordable rates. In addition, Charity Bank has also helped to fund a community hydroelectric scheme on Mull capable of powering 280 homes. If only Carlsberg did banks, this is what it might look like!
The other organisation which caught my interest was Community Shares Scotland. It is not itself a funder but a service provider which gives advice on legislation, structures and funding mechanisms to help local communities raise money for local projects. I think Community Shares Scotland has the ability to become a real catalyst for the growth of community projects and the scheme has been used to fund the building of a small hydro scheme, the purchase of Portpatrick harbour, the creation of a community based football club and the establishment of a community shop in Uig.
If you have an idea for a community project or are a charity looking for funding then I would be really interested to hear from you. Please contact Angus McGuire on 01383 721621.