Aims/priorities: The Fund provides grants and investment to strengthen the social investment market in England to better meet the needs of charities and social enterprises. The idea behind the fund is to facilitate the development of a strong, sustainable, collaborative community of social investment providers that work together to build a better market.
Following the impact of coronavirus/COVID-19 on the social sector, the Connect Fund has re-focused its funding priorities across three focus areas to support work that will best prepare the infrastructure of the social investment market to respond to the needs of charities and social enterprises in a challenging recovery phase.
The focus areas are:
- Equality and diversity - to support work that addresses diversity and inclusion in the social investment sector as well as issues of inequality in the social investment market.
- Business support development - to support projects that prepare infrastructure organisations to provide appropriate business support into the recovery phase and further our understanding about what the sector needs to adapt and be resilient to future shocks.
- Flexible Finance for the Recovery - a call for ideas and solutions to help inform the design of Access's new £18 million Flexible Finance for the Recovery programme.
Who can apply? Applications are accepted from:
- Voluntary sector infrastructure organisations.
- Membership bodies.
- Umbrella organisations.
- Sector, place-based, or equalities networks.
- Community foundations.
- Social investment fund managers or advisors.
To be eligible, applicants must be:
- Based in England.
- Incorporated and registered as a charity, social enterprise or have a social purpose clearly incorporated into the articles of association.
- Applying for an initiative that falls within the Fund's specific funding priorities and adds value to the current ecosystem.
The Connect Fund particularly welcomes applications from BAME-led, disability-led, LGBTQ+-led, and women-led infrastructure and intermediary organisations.
The Connect Fund does not provide grants and/or social investment to frontline charities or social enterprises involved in direct service delivery, unless their proposal is directly linked to improving the social investment market in England.
Grant amount: Funding provided for individual projects will vary (in the past Connect Fund projects have received £30,000 on average).
Application process: Applications can be made in the following ways:
- Equality and Diversity programme and the Business Support Development programme - Applicants should first complete the online enquiry form on the Connect Fund website. Those that meet the criteria will be contacted by the Connect Fund team to discuss their proposal further. Successful applicants will then be invited to submit a full application.
- Flexible Finance for the Recovery programme - Applicants should complete and submit the response form on the Connect Fund website (which will, initally, be open until September 2020).
Deadline: Applications to the Equality and Diversity programme and the Business Support Development programme can be made at any time and are accepted on a rolling basis.
Responses to the Flexible Finance for the Recovery programme call will be accepted until September 2020.
Website address: www.connectfund.org.uk/