The phrase ‘knowledge is power’ is more relevant now than ever in our high tech, fast-moving and often digitally overloaded world, so it’s interesting the saying is widely attributed to Sir Francis Bacon and dates back to around 1597.
That’s some forward thinking!
Last week we launched our new market championing campaign GET INFORMED – social investment for boards to help charity trustees and non-executive directors of social enterprises get to grips with the complex and fast changing world of social investment. It is important for us to remember that the vast majority of boards are volunteers who have a passion to create social impact through their responsibilities to the organisations they serve.
GET INFORMED was created as a response to feedback. The message was loud and clear. Our social investors told us that deals often fall down late in the process because boards weren’t engaged early enough in the process. Senior leaders of charities and social enterprises told us they found it hard to easily locate appropriate information to share with their boards, and board members themselves told us the issues they had around credibility of that information. We all know that what works best if hearing it from a peer who has been there, done that, got the t-shirt and is not afraid to share their ‘real’ experiences.
I am often asked what makes a brilliant board and sitting on a couple myself it’s relatively easy to reel off the descriptors: skilled, impactful, energetic and rigorous. For me the area of challenge is key, not just challenge around risk but also around pursuing opportunity. This is one of the reasons we are particularly delighted to be working with such a great range of partners including the Charity Commission. Sarah Atkinson, Director of Policy and Communications, said “As with any other aspect of charity strategy, trustees should feel confident to make bold and even radical decisions on social investment as long as they are mindful of their duties and responsibilities in reaching the decision and they know they have the information they need.”
In order to enable boards to be bold and radical, above all we want the campaign to be practical. So I am particularly delighted that it is not us talking but the faces of campaign, whether that be Roger in Scotland, Lisa in Hull or John in Cornwall. They all have knowledge, opinions and perspectives that are important to share. We hope the slides we have produced, the film that they have narrated and the social investment board mentors we will be offering will be used by boards up and down the country, not in order to ‘make’ them take social investment but to help them consider if it is one of those opportunities that should be explored. After all, remember what Sir Francis Bacon said in the 16th century – knowledge really is power.
Sign up to the GET INFORMED campaign here.