Barrow Cadbury Trust and Access Foundation invest in Barking and Dagenham’s Transformational Community-led Funding Model

BD Giving is delighted to announce that the Connect Fund by Barrow Cadbury Trust and Access Foundation will fund
FundA way for people to combine their money and invest together.
the next phase of our transformational approach to community-led investment.

BD Giving’s approach to investment is designed to give local people control over how money is generated, distributed and invested in their area. With funding from the Connect Fund, we will not only go deeper into Barking and Dagenham, we will also encourage and support other communities to build their own community-led investments.

The funding will enable BD Giving to continue collaborating with The Curiosity Society who have been fundamental to developing local capacity for participation in fund design. Together, we will work alongside three new locations and build the tools to re-imagine financial decision-making in even more places.

Democratising money to transform lives and communities
Barking & Dagenham’s GROW Fund disrupts traditional investment sector approaches because decision making power stays in the hands of the community – while satisfying Charities Commission and Financial Conduct Authority requirements. We think it is the first genuinely community-led endowment fund in the UK.

The model has already attracted interest from other investors and with support from the Connect Fund we will democratise money for more people in towns and cities all over the country.

Our community-led investment journey started last year when we recruited local people to create an Investment Policy
Investment Policy A strategic document that outlines how an organisation will manage their investment assets (the “Portfolio”), with often a set of financial (and sometimes impact) objectives and boundaries.
and make decisions on the first £1.45m of a growing endowment fund, now known as the GROW Fund.

The people who took a punt on us were residents who were already invested in their borough, running local businesses and raising families locally. They were also cynical about how decisions were made, often nervous about the responsibility of so much cash, and sometimes confused by the financial investment world’s jargon – as we were.

They stuck with us and with the help of The Curiosity Society we learned how to produce an ethical investment strategy and build a portfolio of impactful investments. Finally, after months of learning and trust building, that same group of 10 women came with us to Westminster to launch their Investment Policy in parliament. They proudly told a full committee room how they – a group of people with no financial experience – could make investment decisions for their community. Their message was and is a powerful one.

“Together we can build a better future for ourselves, our children, and future generations.” Irina, CSG member.

The group has proven that putting the people in underserved neighbourhoods at the heart of spending decisions has a transformational effect on those individuals and their community.

“LBBD supports BD Giving in building up our residents’ abilities to make funding decisions for our community. I have witnessed the growth of BD Giving’s Community Steering Group– from writing an Investment Policy to presenting at the House of Commons to hosting a local launch event for their latest fund. Most importantly, I have seen these residents become more active as volunteers and in leadership roles in our borough. I’m excited to see what is next for them.” – Councillor Saima Ashraf, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.
What’s next for Barking & Dagenham?
In the next phase, we will create a dashboard to monitor the impact
Impact Means the changes to the world we expect to see because of an investment. This could be numbers of people helped, the amount of change or the creation of things that make the world better. This is not exclusive to investment or finance.
of the investments and a digital platform to increase community engagement and expand participation in the borough. Our skilled Community Steering Group
Community Steering Group (CSG) A group of local people who give their time and ideas to make Barking & Dagenham Giving’s community-led investment fund a success, now and for future generations.
members will go out into the community to train more people who we will welcome into the next iteration of the Community Steering Group.

Our intention is to spread participation further and deeper into the borough, so that everyone who is affected by funding decisions can get involved in making those decisions.

The people of Barking & Dagenham have power and they can use it to make a better place for us all.

Contact Kate@bdgiving.org.uk to discuss learning from our process and establishing a community-led fund in your locality.
About Barking & Dagenham Giving

Barking & Dagenham Giving (BD Giving) is a non-profit organisation that equips the community of Barking and Dagenham with the tools, resources and knowledge it needs to drive positive change and make a lasting impact in the borough. Founded in July 2020 after a year of incubation, we are inspired by the dedication and response of the social sector during the COVID-19 pandemic and the community’s ability to self-organise and lead. Our goal is to create a collaborative, inclusive, and sustainable borough where all residents feel they have a say in shaping their neighbourhood. Instead of providing direct services, we support and collaborate with local groups and individuals to address challenges such as poverty, inequality and civic disengagement. 

We prioritise inclusivity and participation in all of our projects. To distribute funding, we either work with a small group of trusted organisations to make allocation decisions, or we involve individual community members as decision-makers. We strive to push the boundaries of traditional decision-making processes and rebuild agency, opportunities, and trust within our community.

About The Curiosity Society

To support learning around financial systems, BD Giving partnered with The Curiosity Society, a community benefit society and learning partner to the Access Foundation for the past 5 years. They bring a creative approach to de-mystifying financial knowledge, and strong learning and evaluation credentials. They have experience across sectors, having helped funders evaluate their own financial systems. 

About Connect Fund
The Connect Fund is managed by the Barrow Cadbury Trust on behalf of Access – The Foundation for Social Investment. The Connect Fund was established as the social investment infrastructure fund. Its objective is to improve the social investment
Social InvestmentUsing money to help people and communities while also making money back.
market in England by supporting and strengthening the infrastructure, so it can better meet the needs of charities and social enterprises
Social enterpriseIs a business with primarily social objectives whose surpluses (leftover money) are reinvested back into the business or in the community, rather than being driven by maximising profit for shareholders and owners, such as a Community Shop.

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