Big Potential has now closed.
What was Big Potential?
Big Potential was a £20m Big Lottery Fund grant fund that provided grants and support to charities and social enterprises to help them work out how social investment could help them become more sustainable, build their capacity and scale up to deliver greater social impact.
The grants were used to help pay for specialist support from approved ‘providers’. All providers were individuals or organisations with specialist expertise that could provide technical, financial, legal, business or other support. All providers needed to have a proven track record of helping other charities and social enterprises successfully raise investment.
The programme had two different application routes; Big Potential Breakthrough and Big Potential Advanced.
Breakthrough was aimed at organisations who wanted support to help explore how social investment might help them and/or were looking to raise less than £500,000 of investment.
Advanced was aimed at organisations who were clear about how social investment could help them and who wanted to raise investment over £500,000. It was also available to organisations looking to win contracts worth more than £1 million.
WHAT DID BIG POTENTIAL OFFER?
a multi stage application process that helped applicants think about how they could develop in order to attract investment.
The first stage was simply an eligibility check. Big Potential was available to voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations operating in England.
For eligible organisations wishing to apply for Advanced the next stage was to submit an application alongside an approved provider. Grants of £50,000 – £150,000 were available.
For eligible organisations wishing to apply for a Breakthrough grant there were several stages to complete.
The first was an online diagnostic tool. This helped potential applicants explore their finances, people, customers, services and processes to better understand what they needed to do to become ‘investment ready’. If you would like to take a similar diagnostic tool for your own organisation we recommend the VCSE Strength Checker.
The next stage was a 1-1 session with a specialist advisor. These experts, from Locality, Social Enterprise UK or Charity Bank, helped applicants examine the results of their diagnostic report in more detail to understand their options.
For those organisations who wanted to apply for a grant they then had to submit an application alongside an approved provider. Grants of £20,000 – £75,000 were available.
Social Investment Guide
One of their most popular resources was their Social Investment Guide which they described as:
You have probably stumbled over the word social investment and wondered what it’s all about.
The aim of this guide is to give you an overview of the UK social investment market and help you to work out whether and how it’s relevant to your organisation – it’s for anyone involved with a voluntary and community organisation or social enterprise (VCSE) as a trustee, chief executive or member of staff.
Amazingly, you can find an archived version of their guide from the Internet Archive here.
What is ‘social investment’?
Social Investment – finance provided for voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations (VCSEs) which investors expect to get back and to create social impact.
Social investment is the use of repayable finance to help an organisation achieve a social purpose.
The goal of Big Potential was to raise awareness of social investment among charities and social enterprises and help them get to a position where they felt confident enough to take on social investment for themselves.
For more information about social investment and how it may work for you we recommend visiting Good Finance – a collaborative project to help improve access to information on social investment for charities and social enterprises.
It’s a great first-stop for any charity or social enterprise that is new to social investment and wants to find out more.
Since 2014 Big Potential has awarded grants to hundreds of charities and social enterprises to help work out how social investment could help them become more sustainable, build capacity and increase scale to deliver greater social impact.
Once the final grant awards have been made we will be publishing the key grant data. The latest complete grant data* we have is published below.
Big Potential Breakthrough
890 1-1s completed
537 grant applications
280 grants awarded
Total committed = £8,313,089
Big Potential Advanced
242 applications received
113 grants awarded
Total committed = £8,757,289
*All figures are as of the end of August.