Crisis pioneers SROI-based ‘share offer’ in new Skylight Centres — a model for others pursuing philanthropic investment?

Crisis, the homelessness charity, is currently promoting accredited education, training and employment centres called Crisis Skylight Services. The charity already has Skylight Centres in London and Newcastle and is planning a new Skylight development in Birmingham, where it has already been consulting with other providers and investigating potential sites.

What’s interesting about this story — covered recently in Third Sector Online and elsewhere — is the investment and fund-raising model that Crisis has adopted for these centres.

In partnership with the Financial Times, Crisis has issued a SROI-based investment prospectus, similar to a company share offering — the first such prospectus ever issued by a UK charity. This follows research carried out for the charity by independent specialists Oxford Economics, whose report and SROI formula are available here.

This is not, of course, the first time that UK not-for-personal-profit organisations have sought to use SROI to encourage ‘philanthropic investment’ — but the Crisis offer has an additional innovative angle. Because it revolves around similar Skylight centres, it offers comparability and thus enables investors to base their investment decisions not just on location but on the comparable levels of social return these locations generate.

Being a major, national charity ‘brand’ has clearly been of immense assistance to Crisis in this, as has its undoubted media savvy and ability to strike powerful national partnerships, but I reckon many other smaller organisations will also be watching closely to see how this works and whether it offers a model that they too might capitalise on.

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