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Comic Relief: Social Investment Review and Horizon Scoping

1. BACKGROUND

Comic Relief’s vision is a just world free from poverty. Our mission is to drive positive change through the power of entertainment. Comic Relief believes that social investment works alongside grant making as a means through which to pursue our charitable purposes. Whilst social investments can generate some financial return, the primary motivation for making them is to further our charity’s objects.

Comic Relief defines social investment as ways of creating new, or scaling up existing, streams of financing for organisations and initiatives that seem to offer sustainable development solutions. Strategies employed can include mission and programme related investment, venture philanthropy, institutional building and enterprise development through vehicles such as lending, loan guarantees, equity investments, patient capital and philanthropic venture capital.

Since 2008 Comic Relief has been piloting making social investments within the International Grants Trade programme. To date we have made social investments by using a combination of the resources which are available for the application of the charity’s purposes including income, reserves and expendable endowments. There has not been an open application process for social investments. Investments have been made either through CR approaching UK charities, including those working with international partners, or by discussions with long standing grantees regarding their social investment needs or on the recommendation of the assessors reviewing grant applications submitted to Comic Relief. Thus far investments have comprised of 3 direct loans to social enterprises and social lenders; 1 loan guarantee, 1 grant including on loans to African enterprises, and 2 equity purchases on behalf of smallholder farmers.

We believe all social investments made to date are aligned with CR’s stated vision, mission, and grant making principles:

- Helping those in great need
- Meeting people’s basic needs and promoting their basic rights
- Involving local people
- Working with others
- Supporting local organisations and social movements
- Making a long-term commitment
- Learning from experience and improving practice
- Delivering effective projects.

Comic Relief has assessed each proposal on the basis of:
- The prospects of the business (which could determine the proportion of the investment which Comic Relief is willing to provide)
- The applicant’s role in delivering the charity’s objectives
- The risk of the organisation defaulting on the investment
- The reputational risk to Comic Relief.
- Ensuring that any private benefit derived from the social investment will be purely incidental
- Any private benefit is not excessive and will be heavily outweighed by public benefit.
- Potential to offer good returns, on the basis that greater benefit can be delivered through the recycling of funds; or
- A high degree of innovation, despite potentially less certain returns.

We are now considering making social investment a consistent element of our international funding portfolio, with up to 10% of the funds we raise being distributed as loans or loan guarantees rather than grants. Our current thinking is that we would only give loans or loan guarantees alongside grants to organisations but it’s possible that we might extend this, when appropriate, to making equity purchases or stand alone loans.

In the UK, social investments have not been part of the portfolio to date. However we are interested in finding out more about alternative ways of financing organisations and are keen to pilot social investments in the future. To this end, we will be commissioning research to provide informed recommendations to support the development of Comic Relief’s social investment strategy in the UK. We are currently developing the framework for this research and see it as a follow on piece of work to this international grants scoping study.

2. PURPOSE, OBJECTIVES AND SCOPE

Purpose

The purpose of the review is to provide informed recommendations to support the development of Comic Relief’s international social investment strategy. We would like these recommendations to be based on an assessment of what Comic Relief and others have learned from our existing work providing social investment to support development work in Africa, and a review of wider thinking on the potential of social investment to support development work. We would also like to understand whether offering social investment will help us maximise fundraising from a range of different sources.

Objectives

• To identify which other providers are offering a mixture of grants/investments for development work in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and understand the key determinants of success and failure of these initiatives
• To understand how these investments are managed, and what kind of in house or additional expertise is required
• To assess demand from existing international grantees / potential applicants for Comic Relief providing social investment funds instead of/alongside grant funding and what they would use it for and where
• To understand if grants and social investments have the potential to achieve different kinds of social impact in Africa, Asia and Latin America, what these are, how they are different, and how they could be measured
• To inform our decisions on when it would be appropriate to make social investments within our international work rather than give grants. This could be based on how the funds are to be used e.g. for capital assets or for capacity building, or on who the funds are to be used by e.g. a private business, a social enterprise or a charity.
• To give an initial overview of the potential for social investments into projects in the UK which could be used as a basis for further research and development of a UK social investment strategy
• To assess to what extent offering social investments as well as grants might impact on our ability to raise funds from a variety of sources

Scope

The review will be mainly desk based including reviews of a selection of existing Comic Relief grants identified by Comic Relief staff and external literature; and interviews with key Comic Relief and external informants as identified by Comic Relief and the selected consultant(s).
In more detail the key areas for investigation identified in the objectives above will need to consider the following questions:

Identifying other funders and how investments are managed
• Which other relevant providers are offering a mixture of grants / investments for development work in Africa, Asia and Latin America?
o What kind of organisations do they fund – charities or social enterprises, large or small in terms of no. of staff, income; what kind of expertise do they look for in organisations?
o What is their minimum level of expected financial return?
o What do they require in terms of measurable social and financial impact?
o For which kinds of projects do they offer a ‘mixed model’ of grant and investment funding?
o What is the typical proportion of loan or loan guarantees as opposed to grants for different types of projects.
o How do they manage their social investments? What in house expertise do they have or what other expertise do they buy in to support the management of their social investments? Do they outsource? If yes how does this work?
o What are the key financial, impact and reputational risks they believe need to be considered when making social investments?

Understanding the differential potential of grants and social investments

• Do social investments in Africa, Asia and Latin America allow organisations to achieve different kinds of outcomes to grant funding?
o If yes, what are these and why?

Assessing opportunities in existing grants and possible future demand

• Which previous Comic Relief international grants could have been wholly or partial loans and achieved a similar or even higher level of impact?
• What is the demand for social investment amongst Comic Relief’s current and potential international grantees:
o Which are already accessing loans / investments elsewhere and for what?
o What do they believe are the current gaps in terms of accessing project financing
o What do they think is the difference between receiving investments / co-funding from social lenders and receiving them from banks / private companies who may not share their charitable purpose?

Additional in house or external expertise required by Comic Relief to implement an impact or responsible investment strategy?

• What’s the basic level of due diligence that’s required before making social investments internationally?
• What resources are currently available within the governance structures and management teams of Comic Relief?
• How efficient are the different methods of making social investments that Comic Relief is currently using. How much legal / financial resource is required? How much management of the investment? What’s the likelihood of default? How can the social impact be measured?
• What other options are there for Comic Relief to outsource making loans to third parties?

Initial scoping of potential for social investments in projects in the UK

• Which UK organisations are currently making social investments internationally and in the UK
• What kinds of social investments are currently being made in the UK and who is making them?

Assessing the impact of offering social investment on fundraising

• To what degree are different donors / potential cofunders of Comic Relief projects more likely to engage with Comic Relief if we offer loans / loan guarantees alongside grants and on what basis?
o Bilateral donors / other Foundations
o Corporate partners
o Different socio-economic groups, in particular high net worth individuals
o Different age groups, in particular under 35s

3. SUGGESTED REVIEW METHODS

The methods to be used will be decided in discussion with the consultant, but could include:

• Desk based review of evaluations, budgets and annual reports of a selection of grants made by Comic Relief to identify if they could or should have had a social investment component
• Desk based review of literature on strategies of providers of social investments for development work internationally and in the UK
• Key stakeholder semi-structured interviews including Comic Relief staff managing programmes which could have a social investment component; Comic Relief investment committee members; Comic Relief current and potential grantees and social investment recipients, social investment organisations and funders,
• Interview with 1-2 professional fundraisers who have worked for or with organisations who make social investments and which raise funds from the general public and other donors.

4. KEY OUTPUTS

The consultants will be expected to produce a report detailing findings (maximum length 20-25 pages) to include:

• Executive summary
• Introduction – Purpose of the review, methods used and limitations
• Analysis – Findings of the review in relation to the objectives in section 2, and any other areas emerging
• Conclusions and recommendations – Summary of findings, suggested next steps for Comic Relief social investment strategy
• Appendix – List of documentation reviewed, people and organisations interviewed, final agreed TOR

5. TIMEFRAME

The review should ideally take place May – Aug 2012 with a draft report submitted by the end of July 2012, and the final report by mid August 2012. A meeting with key stakeholders in Comic Relief may be organised to share findings and recommendations after the delivery of the final report. A budget and timetable will be negotiated with the selected consultant(s). We are expecting the work to take approximately 40 working days.

6. SKILLS AND QUALIFICATIONS

Consultants would need to have:
• An understanding of social investment sector internationally
• An understanding of international grant making
• A proven track record of undertaking similar desk based and interview based research
• Demonstrable analytical skills and a pragmatic approach to making recommendations
• Professional integrity
• Excellent interpersonal skills & communication skills, both written and verbal

8. REVIEW DELIVERY TEAM

The selected consultant will be supported by the following Comic Relief staff, to carry out the scoping study/literature review:

Project Manager: Sian Herschel (Comic Relief Trade and Climate Change Grants Manager)
Project Team: Richard Graham (Comic Relief International Head of Grants)
Joanna Monaghan (Comic Relief International Learning Manager)
Colin Simon (Finance Director)

9. NEXT STEPS

Comic Relief welcomes a response to these Terms of Reference, with a short written statement including:
• an outline of costs
• a confirmation of availability for up to 40 days of work between May and August 2012
• a sample of similar written work

Responses should be sent to: Sian Herschel at s.herschel@comicrelief.com no later than 14th May, 2012.

Organisation Comic Relief

Country UK