Is scaling UP or OUT better?
Cliff left us with a few words of inspiration for the budding social entrepreneurs in the room: Have a lean design, learn from your competitors, and don’t wait until you’re ready because you never will be.
As ever, we were welcomed with open arms at the recently (re)christened ‘Spring’. Fuelled by the bounty of the Vauxhall Garden Community Café, we set about further developing the quality of our relationships within our immediate On Purpose ‘family’ (Tom, and the Associates). Facilitated by the ethereal Darius (CEO of Real World Magazine), intent on nudging us from our ‘over-educated, analytical minds’, to a state of experience and instinct. I doubt any of us had anticipated how he would tease out our approach to: future personal development sessions, or; how the Associates could better support each other.
The constructive tone was set by each of us contributing one thing, from both our professional and personal lives, that had recently gone well. Having enjoyed this quick-fire check-in on how everyone’s doing, we agreed this practice would be adopted whenever we met in future.
It soon became apparent; practice was the name of the game. An array of possible techniques were presented to us by (Sofia, Matt Darius), including story telling in the first person, The Work, ritual rites of passage, meditation on personal strengths and weaknesses, Action Learning (Clore Foundation Social Enterprise Fellowship approach), group exercises around ‘I’m brilliant… You’re brilliant…’, feedback, Aikido, and ‘I’m pretending…’. It was emphasised, only through the concerted effort of practice would the learning from these interventions become purposeful to our personal development.
While peer feedback was requested by all the Associates in monthly reviews, and future personal development opportunities pay heed to the variety of techniques outlined above, the afternoon was spent with two particular practices: Aikido and ‘I’m pretending…’.
Aikido: playful arm wrestling ‘unbendable arm’ demonstrated the first four stages of achieving outcomes with increasing ease:
-Against (opposing the force of another, and straining in the process);
-In spite of (opposing/ ignoring) the force of another, while focusing your energy on your own aim);
-With (using the energy of another, to further your own aim);
-Aiki (combining with the energy of another, to create something new. The plank extension exercises looked at applying our learning to following, leading and collaborating to greater effect.
‘I’m pretending…’: create sincere intention among the group, enabling accumulative declarations by each individual.
The accrued intimacy over the course of this session will no doubt stand us in better stead to both ask for, and anticipate support requests of our fellow Associates.
This is a question frequently asked by grant-giving organisations or projects needing donations, meaning that the focus is concentrated on where and why to invest.
Some people though have started thinking differently, questioning how they can make charitable money work harder by making Social Investments. It all started with Ford and Taconic Foundations at the end the 1960s, who began providing much needed capital investment to black and minority owned businesses. In March 2010, the UK showed an increased level of sophistication in this area through a record deal of £5m between HCT Group and Bridges Venture, which involved a combination of quasi-equity and loan.
There is a wide range of products to choose from when talking about Social Investments and some questions that need answering before you invest.
The first question to answer is the objective of the investment: “are you looking for an investment that gives you a primarily financial or social return?”.
The second question you have to consider is what organisational need you want to address. You have to consider that organisations at different stages and with different business models might have different needs for capital or expenses.
The third consideration is how far you want your money to go. At one end of the spectrum, you have secured loans, where it is guaranteed you will get your money back. At the other end, you have equities where your investment is susceptible to the risk of the organisation (grants of course are riskier as your money does not generate any financial return, however the social impact is definitely there).
Venturesome, CAF’s social investment fund launched in 2002, is an example of how this choices actually work in practice. Paul Cheng, from Venturesome (who we had the privilege to have as an On Purpose guest speaker), explained to us their unique approach to Social Investment. They believe the most effective way of doing social investment is to provide access to capital for organisations. They see that lack of capital is a barrier to charities increasing their social impact. The implications of this, and strengthening their balance sheets is being prepared, as a social investor, to incur occasional losses and accept that not all funds will be generate positive financial returns. The reason behind social investment is ultimately to help charities/social enterprises with their financial capital needs – e.g. working capital and cashflow (NOT just project funding). “That is the crucial point which most people do not understand – we need to invest in charities – not just pay/donate to them just to do projects. Charities need investment like businesses.” says Paul.
Social Investment has evolved a lot so far, however it is still a young market. My belief is that we all can benefit from more investment in this area as we can not only recycle the money and help more beneficiaries, but also educate organisations on how best to manage charitable funds. It is important nevertheless to highlight that social investment is just one part of the landscape – of course, we still need grants, donations, secured bank loans etc. Those products will always be needed in our society, however the theory of diversification is expected also to benefit the charity world.
Hello and welcome to the On Purpose Blog! Here we hope to outline the most interesting parts of the pilot year, including updates on training as well as placements posted by the 5 Associates.
A bit of background on who we are…
On Purpose is a new leadership programme for the next generation of high-flyers who will use the power of business to make a difference in the world. Today’s talent are tomorrow’s leaders who will help solve society’s biggest problems. We believe that if we find the most inspiring people, provide them with the right experience and give them world-class training, then great things will happen.
We organise six-month, paid placements in some of the most respected purpose-driven enterprises, including (RED), Comic Relief and O2, providing real-life experience of large, small, established and start-up enterprises; corporations, not-for-profits and charities; all with a common purpose of operating for good.
We also believe that tomorrow’s leaders are entitled to world-class training. This is why On Purpose works with current and former professionals from prestigious organisations across all sectors to provide such training. We are proud that many exciting organisations will be involved in delivering our training programme.
We hope to see you here again soon,
The On Purpose Team