Hitting the bull’s-eye

Seb Elsworth

Foundations’ missions and investments won’t always be perfectly aligned, but the centre of the target is always worth aiming for

Whatever stage foundations have reached in aligning their investments with their mission, there are common barriers that hold them back. Access’s journey offers useful clues as to how to get past these barriers.

The bull’s-eye model enabled intent to be clearly communicated, progress to be monitored, and investments which didn’t perfectly align with the mission to be more aligned than otherwise.

Access – The Foundation for Social Investment, aims to make charities in England more financially self-reliant. Our £60 million spend-down endowment was provided to Access by the UK government in 2015. Following its establishment, an endowment working group was formed of three trustees with social investment and foundation experience, and two external members: one a specialist in impact management and one with mainstream investment market experience. Knowing that a 10-year spend-down endowment would have particular requirements, the group spent time understanding the interplay between liquidity, financial return and social impact goals before it started to develop a detailed model which became an investment policy. The conclusion: a fixed income focus, with bonds held to maturity, would provide clear cash flows and the best opportunity to seek impact.

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