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BWC and social investment

Starting from zero

BWC has been interested in social investment since the Charity Commission updated its guidance on Charities and Investment Matters in 2011 (known as CC14). For the first time this allowed charities to invest their funds to achieve a social impact as well as a financial return - the definition of social investment - rather than for financial return alone.
Most of our income comes from investments managed for us to produce the best total financial return within an acceptable level of risk. The money generated is spent on furthering our charitable aims - the relief of sickness and poverty, and the advancement of health.

Most funding organisations’ portfolios are managed in this way, but it means that our funds could be invested in organisations with activities far removed from our objectives. In 2013 we therefore set aside £1 million to be used specifically for social investment. This complements the services that we provide directly to our beneficiaries through our staffed helpline. We have been able to achieve a financial return at the same time as directly furthering our aims and increasing our overall social impact.

An established investor

We now have £3 million in funds available for social investment, of which nearly £2 million is committed at November 2019. We collaborate with the other main social investing organisations, often co-investing and sharing the costs of due diligence investigation and legal documentation. Because of our provenance in the financial services industry, and despite our relatively small size, we often take a more adventurous investment stance than other investors.

Shaping the market

We also contribute to the development of the social investment market by serving on the Steering Committee of the Social Impact Investors Group, which supports Foundations, Trusts and other organisations that are interested in social impact investing.

Our approach to social investment

  • Our investment policy

    We have evolved the following approach to enable us to achieve a balance between risk and return, and between financial return and social impact:

    • To invest in either loan or equity
    • Initial investment should be typically between £50k and £125k
    • Investments should be operating in the health, wellbeing or poverty sectors
    • We do not have the resources to finance start-ups
  • Our investment criteria 

    If you're looking for funding for your social enterprise, please make sure that you can demonstrate the following before contacting us to see if we can help:

    • The enterprise should be based and operates in the UK
    • It should have social as well as financial aims
    • The social impact should be clearly articulated, and should be related to BWC objectives
    • Legal structure: the enterprise should be constituted in one of the social forms of governance, or a private company with a social purpose
    • A coherent and credible business plan.
  • Contact us

    In the first instance, please send an email to social.investment@bwcharity.org.uk. We will get back to you as soon as we can. Even if we are unable to help you ourselves, we are established in the social investment sphere, and may be able to direct you to organisations that can