Charity depositor: Power to Change

Posted in

Power to Change is an independent charitable trust working to strengthen the community. The trust deposited £5 million with Charity Bank in July 2019. We spoke to Ged Devlin, Development Manager at Power to Change, about the importance of positive investment.

Why did you decide to invest in Charity Bank?

We want to invest our endowment with organisations that are aligned to our values. It’s so important for trusts and other charitable organisations to think about where their money is being held and what it’s being used for.

Of course health charities aren’t going to want to invest in tobacco, or international development organisations in the arms trade, but those in the social economy need to look beyond just negative screening. We need to move towards positive screening. Where can we put our money so that it provides the most social impact, but can also provide a return?

Charity Bank provides a vital service to the sector, so investing in Charity Bank means we widen our reach and our endowment makes an even greater impact on society.

How do you see Charity Bank aligning to what you do as an organisation?

Charity Bank is a values based lender, entirely owned by charitable foundations, trusts and social purpose organisations. The types of initiatives it wants to invest in are very similar to what we want to support – people taking action to address local challenges, enabling them to control vital assets and services that might otherwise disappear, or starting new initiatives in response to local needs. Putting business in community hands.

Our endowment exists to make places better and Charity Bank shares this goal and uses the money saved with it in the same way – to help tackle some of the problems that society is faced with.

Both Charity Bank and Power to Change have invested in Burton Street Foundation. Why do you think it’s so important to protect community hubs such as Burton Street?

Community assets are being lost to private ownership at an alarming rate. Local authorities are being pushed to raise money by selling off assets. I believe the shift from public to private ownership is going to be regretted more and more as people start to realise just what we’re losing. In this current climate, grants are in short supply, but Power to Change and Charity Bank can help communities to hold on to and protect their assets.

Why do you think it’s important for charities and social enterprises to be able to access loans from an ethical provider?

Charities and community businesses need to be able to access finance from wherever they can and sometimes that means just going to a high street lender. But most lenders don’t understand the not-for-profit sector. They don’t have experience of community-owned enterprises. Charity Bank does.

Plus, I’m a big believer in the co-operative principle of ‘co-operation between co-operatives’ and I think that could and should apply to the wider social economy too. Whether you’re investing with Charity Bank or taking a loan out with Charity Bank, it’s keeping the money in the sector, which ultimately makes the charity sector more resilient.

Power to Change is the independent trust that supports community businesses in England. Community businesses are locally rooted, community-led, trade for community benefit and make life better for local people. The sector is worth £1.05 billion, and comprises 7,800 community businesses across England who employ 33,600 people (Source: Community Business Market 2018).

From pubs to libraries; shops to bakeries; swimming pools to solar farms; community businesses are creating great products and services, providing employment and training and transforming lives. Power to Change received its endowment from the National Lottery Community Fund in 2015.

Views on this page are those of Power to Change and not Charity Bank.