October 10, 2017

New model for increased social impact

SpareBank 1 Foundation Østfold Akershus has developed a new model to ensure maximum social impact from their contributions. The new model is called Proactive Grants. CEO, Just Erik Næss, explains what this change entails.

What is Proactive Grants?

Traditionally, we have supported projects and actors who send us applications twice a year. These are usually local teams and associations, volunteers and cultural actors. However, we have seen that the quality of these applications is not increasing and the number of applications is stable. We have therefore also chosen to invest in proactive grants. Here, we identify the projects we wish to support based on selected focus areas. The project with Fontenehuset in Rygge is an example of that, where Fontenehuset establishes cooperation with companies concerning specific tasks that needs to be solved and provide work for people with mental disorders. We support this project with a long-term goal that NAV (Norwegian Labour and Welfare Service) or the municipality will take over the financing.

Different types of projects

We also help setting up meeting places and implement competence measures for entrepreneurs and start-ups. Among other things, we have contributed to an accelerator program where Blender, another company, is the project manager. The project is funded by the EU, the county municipality, the municipality and us. We have also supported Drivhuset Østfold. This collaboration ensures that students gain access to real-life corporate business cases they can practice. Another project we have supported is a three-year program of Young Entrepreneurship. Here we provide funds with our sister foundation in Halden. The program is offered to all secondary schools in the county and gives students knowledge in economics and counseling on career choices. In these programs we are also collaborate with Sparebank 1 Østfold Akershus.

How do you find the projects you want to support, which are not application-based?

The first thing we did when we changed course was to contact Ferd Social Entrepreneurs. Together, we worked on a model where our support is aimed at purposes and projects, and not for those who perform the services. We decided to support projects with entrepreneurs we know create effect, such as Drive for life and Intempo. Then we established a dialogue with the municipality and asked what they needed. In our model we have defined the municipality as a recipient and they apply for support on projects they wish to implement. In the next phase, the social entrepreneurs are invited into the project as co-developers and suppliers. These are projects that are not statutory for the municipality, but projects that otherwise would not be realised.

Collaborations with organisations

Another model is that we have developed with Reach for Change, which I heard about at the EVPA conference in Madrid two years ago. I contacted them and together we defined a project that has been running in Fredrikstad, Moss and Sarpsborg for two years now. The project established a mentoring scheme for newly arrived minors immigrants. We connect these children and youth with a local mentor. We supported Reach for Change with funds, they established a project with Catalysts, and the municipality is a supporter.

Interaction with municipalities

The third model is the one we have just implemented together with the mayor of Moss. Moss and Rygge municipalities will merge by 2020. We entered into a dialogue with the municipality about their needs in this process. The municipality wanted to get the youth’s perspectives and input into the merging process. The municipalities are now getting support from us for two and a half years and they have hired the social entrepreneur Interbridge as service provider.

Why do you invest in social entrepreneurs?

The foundation will have access to more money in the future  and wish to spend more on grants. Therefore, we needed to find more projects to support and decided to redefine our granting policy. We experience a saturation of traditional applications. Either we have to support semi-good projects or find new projects. Social entrepreneurship is a trail we will follow, as well as business development. There is a major need for modernisation in the public sector and the savings bank foundations are contributing for an innovative and efficient welfare society.

What criteria must social entrepreneurs meet to receive support from you?

They must be based within our geographical scope, be in line with our purposes and be broadly oriented. In addition, they must be able to create lasting value and have initiatives that affect our priority target groups.

What do you advise other foundations?

Contact other stakeholders and organizations that may be involved in developing projects. See what you can do together and who you can cooperate with at the local level. Find a practical solution! Contact the municipality and map the municipality's needs. Make sure to anchor this on the top to ensure decision-making authority.

You are one of main partners for the EVPA conference in November. Why is this conference something you want to support?

The EVPA conference is a great opportunity to raise awareness among Norwegian stakeholders in an area where there has been done more at the international level than at home. We have been rescued by the oil revenues and a generous welfare state. But, challenges Europe is experiencing will reach us sooner or later. We need to rethink our approach.

This material was written by FERD Social Entrepreneurs. More details about the EVPA Annual Conference here.

Just Erik Naess 03 3
Front Evpa Postcard Oslo 27 03 2017 Page 001

Contact for more info

Katinka  Greve Leiner , Director, Ferd Social Entrepreneurs

Henriette Skretteberg , Project Manager, Ferd Social Entrepreneurs

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