Housing and Poverty

ACT funds organisations built around a big idea; an idea that has the potential to make real changes to the lives of disadvantaged or vulnerable people.

WHY HOUSING AND POVERTY

Andrews Charitable Trust is a Christian charity set up to alleviate poverty – most of our funding is from Andrews Property Group whose purpose is to bring people and property together.

It therefore makes sense for us to address our charitable objective, to tackle the cycle of deprivation and multiple disadvantage, through a property lens – exploring approaches which address the links between housing and poverty.

Paying for housing, whether rent or mortgage payments, is the single biggest cost for many households. In the UK, the proportion of people in the poorest fifth of the working-age population who spend more than a third of their income on housing costs has risen from 39% to 47% in the decade from 2006 – 2016. This has been driven in part by the rise in the number of people renting in the private sector, where costs are highest.

Access to safe, decent housing should bring other benefits as well, such as energy or water saving, privacy, income generation, social inclusion, community and individual empowerment, health benefits, capacity building or education. It can be the foundation to achieving improvements in a number of human rights.

WHAT WE FUND

We focus on tackling housing-related poverty and aspire to a world where everyone has a home that they can afford, which is safe, secure and part of a thriving, inclusive and sustainable community.

To do this, ACT funds organisations built around a big idea; an idea that has the potential to make real changes to the lives of disadvantaged or vulnerable people.

We support inspirational social entrepreneurs to establish their own organisations, focusing on support for innovative and early-stage ventures. Our new strategy allows us to consinder impactful innovations at various stages of development, anywhere where we find strong, experienced, capable and passionate leadership. We will consider funding at any of the following stages of growth:

1) Proof of concept, including needs research, scoping and testing

2) Organisational design and establishment

3) Development funding & investment

FUNDING CRITERIA

We are looking for ideas and new approaches that tackle one or more of the following areas:

  • Increasing the supply of safe, decent housing that people can afford, especially where it enables more inclusive communities.
  • Listening to and responding to all the needs of those in housing poverty, as property can only ever be part of a solution to poverty.
  • Integrated models which enable people to manage life transitions and prevent homelessness.
  • Ideas that bridge the gap between emergency shelter and permanent housing for communities after disaster or war.
  • Understanding of the underlying causes that link housing to poverty, contributing to evidence of what can be done to alleviate this disadvantage.
NO APPLICATIONS OR PROPOSALS
We do not accept unsolicited applications or proposals. Instead we use our extensive network to feed us organisations that meet our very specific criteria.

INNOVATION FOR IMPACT
ACT funds inspirational ideas with the potential to change lives backed by strong, passionate leadership.

We know that the best innovations are simple; a model that is complicated is difficult to scale.

The best organisations show a commitment to measuring impact as an integral part of what they do right from the beginning.

SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS
ACT expects solutions to be cost-effective and to offer an attractive investment opportunity (either philanthropic or financial investment or both).

Business models need to demonstrate that they have a clear understanding of how the solution will be sustainable in the long term. A viable mix of sustainable income streams will need to be developed and will need to be an integral part of the implementation plan. For most organisations that aim to achieve a substantial social impact over time, this will probably mean a mix of fundraising from both philanthropic and investment sources.

We believe that sustainable organisations will have:

  • Strong and ambitious leadership
  • A credible and ambitious business plan that includes a promising strategy for impact at scale
  • An even balance in the energy put into delivering change and ensuring the income remains available to do it.
  • A plan for diverse revenue streams that are integral to the programmes that they need to support
  • A clear organizational chart, with the right people in key positions
  • Efficient, transparent and accountable financial and management system
EASY REPLICATION AND SCALABILITY
Organisations have to be clear about how their model fits into at least one of these paths of scalability, with growth via:

  • the market
  • government
  • becoming a much larger organisation or merging with one
  • 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 a collaborative approach. The model must be able to be implemented at scale whilst also allowing appropriate local interpretation.

Following the passion of our founder, Cecil Jackson Cole, we operate a venture philanthropy approach, supporting young organisations as the vehicles for social change. We take risks but then roll our sleeves up to work alongside those we fund.

When we select an organisations to consider, we take the following approach:

PROPOSAL REQUEST

When we approach an organisation, we will initially ask for a simple summary of the idea and how it meets our objectives. 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. An assessment team consisting of the ACT Director and at least one of the Trustees, will visit your offices. At this point, the due diligence documents that we require will mostly be things that organisations should already have on hand, including:

  • A clear explanation of your operating model, the innovation and why you believe that it will substantially disrupt the issue that you are trying to address
  • a business or strategic plan
  • financials – SOFA, balance sheet, cash flow, and history.
  • organisation chart
  • governance documentation
  • donor/investor list and fundraising/investment strategy
  • leadership and board member CVs

If the assessment team remain impressed after the due diligence process, you will be invited to meet the whole board, to present your idea to them. A decision on funding and partnership with us will be made after that meeting.

UNRESTRICTED MONEY
ACT has always recognised that unrestricted funding is the most useful. Afterall, we wouldn’t fund an organisation if we thought they didn’t know best how to spend their funding.

In most cases we will provide unrestricted funding, but will develop a number of milestones and key performance indicators, to ensure that you are making progress in achieving the impact that you outlined during our assessment process. See the section on milestones below.

ENGAGING WITH THE BOARD FOR GOOD GOVERNANCE
It is usual for ACT to have one of its trustees represented on the board of all organisations we fund – as trustees or as non-executive directors or advisors. The ACT Director will ask to attend your board meetings on a regular basis as an observer. This is because we know the importance of good governance, strategy and accountability. As a result of this high level of engagement, we find that the annual contract review is usually a process of confirming what we already know but gives us a chance to reassess how to get the best value out of our relationship.
LONG TERM FUNDING FOR SCALE

Each funding relationship is bespoke, but we would hope to be with you through the next organisations transition – to get you to the next stage of growth and until interest from new funders is becoming apparent. Historically, this has been somewhere between 2 – 7 years.

FOCUSED MILESTONES

Our funding contracts are always negotiated to include clear milestones which set out the expectations on both sides. Milestones will vary according to the stage and set up of each organisation. That said, they are usually a combination of scale and quality of delivery and programmes, elements of building a strong organisation and financial prudence.

Milestones are progress markers for the contract period and are working towards achievement of key performance targets for the whole contract period. ACT will meet organisations quarterly and expects simple progress reports against these milestones for our board quarterly.

We will also have annual reviews at which point the organisation will meet with trustees and the Director for a more in-depth examination of progress which also provides a formal opportunity to make changes to milestones for the coming year.

MINIMAL HASSLE
The last thing we want is to waste the time and energy of organisations that are making a positive difference in the world. Most information that we need can be met from your already existing material. Formal reporting is confined to the streamlined milestones process (see milestones).
THE GRANT MAKING PROCESS

We do not consider unsolicited applications but for organisations invited to apply, assessment is likely to take place over 3-6 months.  This will include an initial period working with the Director to build up a picture of what you are intending to do and where ACT may support you.

If there is a strong fit, you will be asked to draft up an initial introduction (probably only a couple of pages) to the board of trustees. If the Trustees are interested, then a formal assessment meeting will be set up. Due diligence at this stage will be conducted by the Director and a couple of the Trustees themselves. At this point, the due diligence documents that we require will mostly be things that organisations should already have on hand, including:

  • explanation of your operating model, the innovation and why you believe that it will substantially disrupt the issue that you are trying to address
  • a business or strategic plan
  • financials – SOFA, balance sheet, cash flow, and history.
  • organisation chart
  • governance documentation
  • donor/investor list and fundraising/investment strategy
  • leadership and board member CVs

If the assessment team remain impressed after the due diligence process, you will be invited to meet the whole board, to present your idea to them. A final decision is likely to be made after this meeting, except where there remain some specific queries to be carried through.

 

STAYING IN TOUCH
We like honesty and don’t like surprises. We visit organisations several times a year to work with the leadership and also regularly attend board meetings. We will also visit projects when possible to better understand the realities of implementation on the ground. We hope that all organisations that we support will approach us whenever they need help and we will try to find ways of ensuring that they get it.