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Big Society Capital To Partner With Crowdfunder, Ethex And ThinCats In New Crowd Match Fund

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Crowd by James Cridland via flickr

Three of the largest crowdfunding platforms in the UK will join Big Society Capital in a unique £10 million Crowd Match Fund which will allow the public to invest directly into charities and social enterprises.

Crowdfunder, Ethex and ThinCats (through Community Chest) will help connect people with the causes they really care about by listing social sector organisations who want to raise debt and equity finance.

The £10 million fund will see Big Society Capital match crowdfunded investments made by individuals into Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) eligible charities and social enterprises. It will be the first of its

kind to match different investments made by the public across the social sector. Private investors will qualify for Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR), which offers a 30% tax break.

The Chancellor recently announced an increase in the amount that younger charities and social enterprises can raise through SITR to £1.5 million from April 2017.

Ben Warren, Investment Associate at Big Society Capital, said:

“This fund marks a totally new approach for social investment and crowdfunding. By bringing together the experience and knowledge of these three partners we want to open up opportunities for the public to invest in a huge variety of causes they feel passionate about.

“We hope that this initiative will help charities and social enterprises to find new routes to investment which could offer better value and engagement from their local community. We know that donation-based crowdfunding was the fastest growing model of alternative finance in 2015, and we are excited about the potential for this fund to create similar momentum in the social investment sector.”

Recent Nesta research shows that the UK alternative finance sector grew by 84% in 2015, with £3.2 billion in investments, loans and donations.

Kevin Caley, CEO of Community Chest (and founder of the ThinCats platform), said:

” By providing loans to enterprising projects with a clear mandate for social good, Big Society Capital has provided an exciting new source of finance for social enterprises and charities, many of whom have struggled for funding during recent years.

This makes it the perfect partner for ThinCats, and Community Chest in particular, which connects investors in search of financial returns with social enterprises in need of funding. By doing so Community Chest is providing a tax-efficient way to make a difference in the community, allowing private investors the opportunity to support a good cause while potentially earning a return on their investment. The new Crowd Match Fund is a real step change for social funding and could become the lifeblood for dozens of social projects in the years to come.”

Phil Geraghty, Managing Director of Crowdfunder said:

“This is going to be a game changer for groups looking to do Community Share offers. We know from Crowdfunder’s experience that matching can supercharge campaigns and that for every pound of matched funds for

reward-based crowdfunding, it levers in £4 from the public. For community groups with big plans and projects, in our experience community shares are the main way they’ll fund those, and being able to incentivise their supporters to invest will be a fantastic addition.”

Lisa Ashford, CEO of Ethex said:

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Big Society Capital to roll out this innovative match fund scheme to help social enterprises find the finance they need to grow and flourish. This scheme will encourage more people to invest in businesses they believe in so they can have a direct connection with their money. Having raised close to £50m in investment for organisations that have a positive impact on the world, we can’t wait to make more money do good.”

The platforms deploying the fund on their sites will allow the public to invest directly in charities and social enterprises, and make use of SITR. SITR enables individuals to gain personal tax reliefs, which can include income tax at 30% of the amount invested, capital gains disposal and hold-over relief.

Matt Fountain, who raised investment through SITR for his social enterprise Freedom Bakery, says the new fund will make a huge difference to charities and social enterprises:

“I think we will see a fast increase in the number of deals being made through crowdfunding platforms and the fund is going to be a very powerful tool for communities and social enterprises to raise investment.

If crowdfunding has been the democratising of money, then the SITR match fund is the democratising of investment. The magic of crowdfunding in this way is that it will not only bring in much needed investment but it will unite communities and bring the public far closer to the causes they seek to support.”

Energy

7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees

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As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.

After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:

Financial Advising

One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.

Life Insurance

While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.

Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies

Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.

The Ability To Work Remotely

It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.

Health Insurance

Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.

Unlimited Time Off

This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.

A Full Pantry

Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.

Final Thoughts

Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!

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Top 5 Renewable Energy Stocks to Watch

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Do you feel morally obligated to put your money where your mouth is? I totally get it. We all want to make the world a better place, and I want to help you put your investments to work for you and the planet we call home – we only get one.

Questor Technology – CVE:QST

Questor Technology is one of the most promising penny stocks to follow under $5. It turns out that investing in renewable energy stocks doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, you can get in on the ground floor by investing in penny stocks. These are companies that are just starting to make an impact. If they are successful in the long-run, you win BIG. If they fail, you’re only out a couple pennies. Small risk and big potential reward.

Questor Technology is exciting because they are solving one of the biggest barriers to a greener planet – huge waste and pollution from the oil and gas industry. When they first launched they enjoyed a couple of record years. But as the economy took a hit, so did the oil and gas sector.

I love these guys because they didn’t call it quits. Instead of hanging up the towel, they retooled and relaunched. Now, instead of selling clean energy tech to large oil and gas firms, they rent the tech out. This provides a stable, ongoing revenue. And, if the economy takes another dip, they can quickly scale operations back.

I’m expecting a major upswing. If you have a couple of extra pennies in your portfolio, chuck ‘em at these guys.

NRG Yield – NYSE:NYLD

If you’re willing to dance with the devil, NRG Yield is an exciting company to watch. They invest and offer all forms of energy – from renewable to traditional. I’m really encouraged by their massive investment in renewable energy.

In recent years, making energy more environmentally sustainable has become a focus for a company that used to be one of the bad guys. I think we should encourage companies to stop killing our planet. These guys are on a warpath on behalf of green energy – and so what if they showed up a little late to the party. Don’t we want to reward reform?

Oh, and speaking of green, they’ve had a phenomenal year for investors. I definitely recommend adding them to your portfolio.

Brookfield Asset Management – NYSE:BAM

This is an asset management firm that has gone big on renewable energy. Part of their genius is that they stayed on the sidelines while renewable firms launched and fought over access to technology and resources. While they watched the good guys duke it out, they swooped in and picked up green energy firms that stumbled.

This means that their investors are able to invest in green energy at a HUGE discount. Brookfield Asset Management has more than 100 years of experience making strong investment plays. I love that they allow investors to access green technology without paying the hype premium.

Pattern Energy Group – NASDAQ:PEGI

Based in San Francisco, Pattern Energy Group is a pure green energy play. They’ve spent that past few decades building, expanding and innovating with more than 20 renewable energy facilities. If you’re a bleeding heart with a passion for green energy, this is as good as it gets!

You can purchase stock in their company on two different exchanges – the NASDAQ and Toronto Stock Exchange. This allows investors both north and south of the border to avoid international transaction fees. Savvy investors can compare both markets to find the best bang for the green dollar.

Carnegie Clean Energy – ASX:CCE

I saved the best for last with this stock. Carnegie Clean Energy harnesses the kinetic motion of ocean waves to generate energy. Their tech has been proven by the Australian defense sector – helping to power a naval base at Garden Island.

They also have dipped into other forms of renewable energy, so they have a bright future in a variety of markets. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a buyout shortly based on the proprietary, proven technology that this firm owns the rights to.

In conclusion, it is totally possible to be green-conscious while making some green for your investment portfolio. Some companies are more committed than others, but I’m not afraid of rewarding traditional energy companies if they’re making a solid effort to diversify and make the world a greener place.

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