Recently we came across a handy article by Alastair Wilson from the School for Social Entrepreneurs:

A lightbulb has blinked on in your brain and inspiration has hit – you know how you’re going to right that social injustice that you see. What’s more, your solution can earn money. You’re going to launch a social enterprise.

Now, where can you find some money to get your project off the ground?

Social enterprises are generally perceived to be a good thing. Not only do they provide employment and contribute tax revenue like any other business, but they also serve a socially useful purpose. So if you’ve got a good idea, there are numerous organisations that want to support you, including Her Majesty’s Government.

But first: think. Do you need to get money from someone else for the very early stages of your social enterprise? Lots of social entrepreneurs start their project while holding down a regular job. Think about using a little of your own money and asking for volunteers or work space you could use for free.

If you’ve considered your options and definitely need an injection of money to launch, read on.

Free money!

Our Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland Social Entrepreneurs Start Up Programme is a good place to start. Every year, we offer a free learning programme and grant funding to people with a great idea and the drive to make positive change.

UnLtd, the foundation for social entrepreneurs also offer ‘Try It’ and ‘Do It’ awards of £500 and £5,000 respectively. The first, as the name suggests, is money towards testing an idea that you might have. The second is for when you’re sure you want to go for it and start your business. Both amounts of money come with award managers who can offer advice. Given that UnLtd helped more than 500 social enterprises to start last year, they’re a solid organisation to have in your corner. If you’re reading this in Scotland, check out Firstport’s Start It and Build It awards, too.

Grants – free money that you don’t have to pay back – are available through many different charitable organisations. But very few specifically target budding social entrepreneurs. Instead, think about what your social enterprise is intended to do. Is your art initiative proving to be a springboard for people with mental health problems? Then the Henry Smith Charity might be willing to give you some money. Started a business that’s a boon to your local community? Give Power to Change a shout. We’ve listed as many organisations offering grants as we can here.

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