Regeneris Evaluates Applications for Community Business Charity, Power to Change

Charity, Power to Change commissioned Regeneris Consulting to undertake an assessment of the initial £9 million they have allocated to support community businesses. Power to Change is a charitable trust set up with a £150m endowment from the Big Lottery Fund to support, develop and grow community business across England. Community businesses are place-based business that trade, are locally rooted and who deliver activities and generate profit for the benefit of a specific, local geographic community.

Purpose of the Analysis

To understand the characteristics of applicants and the success criteria, ultimately helping to drive a deeper understanding of the community business sector regionally and nationally. The main purpose of the evaluation was to understand key features of the 750 organisations who applied for funding and the differences between successful and unsuccessful applicants. This analysis has helped Power to Change to refine the process for a new grant programmes.

Key Findings

Over 750 organisations applied to the Power to Change’s Initial Grants Programme after its launch in May 2015. Community businesses were able to apply for a grant between £50,000 and £500,000. Overall 40 community businesses, or 1 in 20 of all applicants, were awarded grant funding. This funding supported a wide range of projects from community pubs and shops to community bus services. Applications were received from across England, with notable clusters around a number of key cities, particularly Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield and London.

Why were applicants unsuccessful?

The main reason for rejection (62% of those unsuccessful) was where applicants did not fit Power to Change’s definition of a community business, primarily due to insufficient evidence of community control. The other most common reasons were where evidence of financial leverage was not confirmed or unclear (49%) or where evidence of social impact was limited (30%).

Feature of successful applicants

The Initial Grants Programme required applicants to have well-worked up proposals and to be able to demonstrate evidence of financial sustainability and impact. Those who accessed grant funding reflect the current patterns of concentrations of community businesses and were:

  • more likely to come from the 10% most deprived neighbourhoods in England
  • also more likely to come from rural areas
  • typically larger than average and had been trading longer
  • more likely to be seeking larger grants, but;
  • tended to be seeking grants that made up a lower proportion of total project costs.

Find the full report here.
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