Bridging the gap: new fund to get charities investment ready

Charities considering taking on social investment could help get themselves investment-ready with the £1m Stepping Stones Fund, launched this week by the City Bridge Trust.

The trust, which must use its funds to maintain five of London’s bridges but also has a surplus available for wider charitable support, will provide grants and risk finance to London-focused charities to help them test out the viability of their propositions. The aim is to reduce the risk of any future investment.

Mark Boleat, policy chairman of the City of London Corporation which is sole trustee of the trust, said: "In today’s environment, some charities looking at new income streams are stymied by a lack of understanding of what social investors want.

"This scheme will help charities who want to go down this route understand the way this kind of finance works, and give them the capacity and space to make their own mind up whether to get involved."

The £1m funding is made up of £400,000 for capacity building, £400,000 for piloting new business models for improved social outcomes, and £200,000 risk finance to help catalyse social investment.

Volunteers from City firm UBS will help to assess grant applications.

Chair of the City Bridge Trust, Jeremy Mayhew, said: "New finance will mean new thinking on the part of charities and this project is an example of how the City Bridge Trust, although it dates back 800 years, remains at the leading edge of new thinking."

City Bridge Trust also manages the £20m City of London Corporation Social Investment Fund, which was launched in 2012.


The deadline for the first call for proposals is January 2015.