ACT looks for organisations built around a big idea; an idea that has the potential to make real changes to the lives of poor and vulnerable people. We fund on the basis of:
ACT is looking for work which fits our two charitable objectives:
This means that we can support ideas that address a wide range of problems if they are especially promising and if they improve the lives of vulnerable people.
That said, we are currently focusing our search for innovations and new solutions to the following areas:
We know that the best innovations are simple; a model that is complicated is difficult to scale.
Ideas also need to have been tested and shown to make a substantially better impact than other approaches.
The best organisations show a commitment to measuring impact as an integral part of what they do right from scratch.
Business models need to demonstrate that they are not too expensive and that they have a clear understanding of how the solution will be sustainable in the long term.
Sustainable organisations will have:
• Quality and ambition of leadership
• A credible and ambitious business plan that includes a promising strategy for impact at scale
• A demonstrable ability to raise or earn money
• An organizational chart that makes sense, with the right people in key positions
• Efficient financial and management systems
– via the market, governments, growing a really big organization, co-opting other NGO’s, or
– viral spread of behavior change.
The organisation needs to be built on a clear understanding of how they fit in the wider world. This should include healthy partnerships and an open, collaborative approach to implementation of their idea that works at scale but also enables locally appropriate interpretation.
Following the instincts and passion of our founder, Cecil Jackson Cole, we work with early stage organisations which are looking to address critical gaps through innovation. We operate in a venture philanthropy approach supporting young organisations as the vehicles for change. We take risks but then roll our sleeves up to work alongside those we fund. With all of those that give time to working with us, our aim is to leave them in a better place than when we met. This means:
When we do approach an organisation, we will initially ask for a simple 2-3 page summary of the idea and how it meets our objectives (we will provide a form for this). This will be shared with all our trustees and so it needs to clearly communicate the need, the idea and its potential. If this is of interest to us then we will arrange a time to meet. At this point, the due diligence documents we require are things that organisations should already have on hand, including a business or strategic plan, financials, organisation chart, donor/investor list, leadership and board member CVs.
We do not consider unsolicited applications but for organisations invited to apply assessment is likely to take place over 3-6 months. Our grant making process is illustrated below: