Banking and Social Investment
CFG’s key resources on banking and social investment can be downloaded from the bottom of this page.
Find out more information about CFG’s Banking Forum here.
Banks have been put under increasing pressure to reduce risk in their activities, particularly regarding anti-money laundering and terrorism. Further pressure has been created by some multi-billion pound fines that have been issued by regulators in response to errors by banks. Many banks have responded by reducing the provision of their services to certain ‘high risk’ topics.
Charities work in some of the most challenging parts of the world, delivering interventions that help to save lives and improve quality of life. In order to deliver these interventions, charities need to have access to financial services such as bank accounts, money transfer, payroll and other areas.
To reduce risks from their activities, many banks are delaying or blocking transactions or closing down bank accounts for charities that work in these challenging areas.
CFG regularly holds discussions with government, regulators, banks and charities on how to resolve this issue. We have also released a policy briefing on de-risking (.pdf).
Social investment is repayable finance used by social organisations (such as charities and social enterprises) to pursue their objectives. Investors want both a social and a financial return.
The government has introduced a new Social Investment Tax Relief to encourage individuals to provide loans to charities and has also set up Big Society Capital to stimulate a new range of a finance providers (Social Investment Finance Intermediaries, or SIFIs).
Social investment is not for all charities, but many need access to repayable finance on generous terms in order to deliver their objectives.
The social investment market is still maturing, but many charities have found it difficult to access loans due to the costs of capital or lack the financial skills to access investment.
CFG is engaging with government, Big Society Capital and investors to remove barriers to charities accessing social investment.
CFG has also released a slide pack to help charities navigate the Social Investment Tax Relief (.pptx).
Charities hold investment assets of over £60bn a year and pay over £350m a year in investment management fees.
These assets are an important way for charities to achieve their charitable objectives, either generating income or using their investments to shape behaviour in other parts of the economy.
CFG works with a range of organisations to make sure that charities understand the role of investments and get the most out of them.
CFG have produced a support guide with the Charity Investors’ Group for charities on How to Write an Investment Policy (.pdf).
Online giving platforms
Online giving platforms have become more and more important for charities. The latest data indicates that around 15% of donors use online giving platforms and 11% of donors use text messages.
Unfortunately, many charities are not digitally aware. Lloyds’ Bank UK Business Digital Index 2015 found that 58% of charities were without basic digital skills compared to 24% of SMEs.
There have also been problems with poor management of online giving platforms - such as the CharityGiving site (run by the Dove Trust) - which has highlighted the need for charities to better understand these platforms.
CFG is working with HMRC, HMT and regulators on how to improve regulation of online giving platforms.
We have also released a guide for charities on this topic - Making the Most of Digital Donations.
Understanding foreign exchange markets is important for charities with investments overseas and that work abroad.
However procuring foreign currency can be complex and can be costly for charities if the process if not properly managed.
CFG monitors developments in foreign exchange practice closely, and we have produced a guide with Stamp Out Poverty on good practice on foreign exchange in the charity sector (.pdf).
Payments processes are constantly changing as banks change how they engage with their customers and business practice evolves.
Charities are a diverse group of organisations with a variety of payment needs and requirements. As the number of bank branches falls and payment processes move online, charities need to adapt to new processes.
From summer 2016, all banks will be offering ‘cheque imaging’ facilities to customers. These will enable images of cheques to be used in place of physical cheques.
CFG is watching the implementation of cheque imaging closely to ensure that the needs of charities are properly understood and so that charities are aware of the new system.
Read CFG’s response to the cheque imaging consultation in April 2014.