How can we Back Britain’s Charities? A bit of background on our campaign asks

As mentioned in my previous blog post, in response to the finding from this years UK Giving Report that charitable donations in 2011/12 are down 20% in real terms from the previous year, CAF and NCVO have launched a campaign calling on Government, businesses and members of the public to “Back Britain’s Charities.” I highlighted there that the campaign has five key asks, and it is these that I want to look at in a bit more in detail here.

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Before I delve into our specific asks, it is useful to give some brief consideration to the broader question of using policy levers to try and encourage greater charitable giving. This should hopefully help to set the scene for why we settled on the recommendations that we did.

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The Social Investment policy landscape

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Social investment, social finance, impact investment. Call it what you will; using non-grant approaches to finance social goals is big news. Investors want to know how to do it, advisors want to know how to tell them to do it, CSOs want to know how to take advantage of it, and governments want to know how to smooth the way for it to happen even more.

Social investment (as I interpret it, at least) encompasses a very broad range of approaches and expectations, from making loans where there is a “negative return” (i.e. some but not all capital paid back) to equity investments in social businesses that are able to deliver near-market financial returns. It is important to remember this when considering why social investment is such hot news, as this spectrum of approaches obviously mirrors a wide range of motivations amongst potential investors.


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