Charities, social enterprises and community businesses have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic for the past 10 months, at a time when their role has been more critical than ever in supporting our most vulnerable communities. On top of these exceptional circumstances, social sector organisations have had faced difficulties in accessing the finance they need to survive.
The Resilience and Recovery Loan Fund (RRLF) is a £25m fund for social enterprises and charities that are improving people’s lives across the UK who are experiencing disruption to their normal business model as a result of COVID-19. The Fund was established in April 2020 to make an existing government scheme (the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) more easily accessible to charities and social enterprises. In August 2020, £4m worth of grants was made available from Access – the Foundation for Social Investment – for organisations based in England. Introducing this blended finance solution to RRLF helped to widen the accessibility of the Fund to organisations who would otherwise struggle to meet the viability threshold for a loan.
To date, RRLF has approved funding of over £20m to 57 charities and social enterprises, with around £9m in funding left. Of the current total, over £18.4m worth of loans and over £2.4m worth of grants have been approved. The Fund closes to new applications on Wednesday 31 March at 11.59pm.
Over the past 10 months, Social Investment Business (SIB) and our partners (Big Issue Invest, CAF Venturesome, Charity Bank, Resonance, Social Investment Scotland, Social and Sustainable Capital and Wales Council for Voluntary Action) have been able to support a wide range of charities and social enterprises with investment through RRLF. While loans are not the right option for all organisations, for some, the current offer has helped to strengthen the vital services they deliver through the pandemic, increasing their resilience for the recovery.
So, how does RRLF specifically help fundraisers, and what’s on offer?
The Fund is intended for those organisations who face a problem because expected income and activity has been delayed or disrupted: this could include large-scale fundraising events, from galas to the London Marathon. A loan may help with this, providing working capital until normal business can commence again. RRLF is the only CBILS-backed fund that was created especially for charities and social enterprises and is dedicated to providing them with the support they need, by partners who truly understand the issues they’re facing. We also understand that in times of crisis, the speed of decision making is hugely important. The team and our experienced social investor partners – have been working hard to ensure the money gets to where it is needed fast with quick turnaround times.
In terms of what’s on offer, key features of the Fund also include:
• Funding packages from £100k to £1.5m
• Loans available from 1 to 5 years
• Assessed on a case-by-case basis alongside the loan, grants that are awarded range in size from £40k - £300k and can be 20% to 40% of the loan amount.
• All loan interest and fees covered by the government for the first 12 months
• All loans come with a 12-month capital repayment holiday and no early repayment fees
• Loans up to £250k unsecured, and above that a simple fixed and floating debenture will be taken
• All purposes considered except refinancing existing debt.
And what about where the money goes?
We have been open and transparent about our decision-making on the Fund, and which kinds of organisations are applying to our funds and programmes, but also where they are and who leads them to ensure we’re investing where it’s most in need. Our weekly Dashboard publishes real-time social investment data. In publishing the data on the Fund, we have been able to identify gaps in reach, and last November, we introduced an initiative to expand the reach of the Fund through an introducer network. The core idea behind the introducer network for RRLF is to improve the geographical accessibility and the diversity of communities reached by the Fund.
Organisations with funding approved from RRLF have included Acorn Early Years Foundation, Big Issue and the Royal Society for Blind Children (pictured).
If you’re thinking RRLF might suit the needs of your charity or social enterprise, please do get in touch with Elizabeth Liberda-Moreni on ElizabethLM@institute-of-fundraising.org.uk. The deadline to submit applications is 31 March 2020.
The Chartered Institute of Fundraising (company number RC000910) has a referral agreement with Social Investment Business and will receive a commission for any loans advanced to organisations introduced to SIB and the RRLF fund.