If creativity is about having ideas and innovation is about turning those ideas into solutions, then enterprise is about making those solutions sustainable through generating income from a mixed economy, as well as developing skills, capacity and impact. At its best, enterprise enables organisations to grow roots and wings at the same time.

This is easier said than done, especially when working tirelessly to deliver front-line services, but the benefits are high; more income, more freedom to operate, greater social impact and becoming less reliant on grants.

Enterprise is a vital part of social production.



Enterprise is a newly defined aspect of The Rank Foundation’s strategy

Its aims are:

  1. To be more enterprising about how we support and fund organisations. This includes;
  • awarding grants that enable organisations to increase sustainability through generating income in diverse ways
  • offering repayable grants to those who have a well developed product and business plan
  • being more enterprising in how we support organisations, particularly through development bursaries and RankNet
  1. To support enterprising initiatives that stimulate the job market and encourage entrepreneurial endeavor; providing employment or employability opportunities for those furthest from paid work opportunities.

The voluntary and community sector has a long and accomplished history of trailblazing innovative approaches for the benefit of people and communities. With social justice at its heart, the sector has progressed campaigning, advocacy and also service delivery in areas such as homelessness, poverty, children, food and anti-discrimination. Generating income and sustaining services has always been a key challenge and this has undoubtedly been harder in recent years. Charities are having to stretch their resources even further in order to meet demand for services whilst also absorbing funding cuts. A recent survey found that many small charities are concerned about sustainability and the majority are looking to diversify their income streams and fundraising options (PwC, Managing the new normal, 2015). The Rank Foundation is committed to supporting organisations to be resilient and sustainable in the years ahead, in order to maintain impact for the communities they serve.

Enterprise In Numbers


of our projects




Communities Changed

In terms of Enterprise, organisations may seek funding to increase

Capacity: Some organisations can identify ways in which they could generate income i.e. through the delivery of training, through the development of products or through establishing trade (community cafés, selling locally grown produce etc) but don’t have enough staff time to commit to developing such initiatives.

Skills Gap: Some organisations have ideas and some capacity to develop them but feel they lack some skills and/or specialism in certain aspects i.e. planning, financial modeling or marketing.

Fresh Outlook: Some organisations may require some time out of the day-to-day experience in order to generate new ideas and explore the opportunities available to them. Sometimes we can’t see the wood for the trees and time spent in a new environment can be of great benefit and lead to new initiatives.

Some good examples…

Examples of enterprising projects include: community cafes, training local people to deliver low-cost commercial services such as dog walking, gardening or DIY, growing and selling food and delivering full-cost training into commercial or public sectors.

The scale of Enterprise is wide reaching, there is no ‘one size fits all’ model and organisations determine their own Enterprise journey. By its nature, Enterprise proves itself – either by a strong social impact or a financial return on investment but preferably both.

We recognise that some organisations will always exist to deliver very bespoke and dedicated services, without the opportunity to generate income through mixed economy routes. For this reason, The Rank Foundation will always provide grants for the delivery of care, particularly for those who are most vulnerable.

Investing in enterprise along with both care and leadership is a strong statement from The Rank Foundation. If we care for the most vulnerable, if we invest in our community leaders, if we trust in our ability to have and to sustain good ideas, there is a lot to be hopeful about.

Enterprise - Related Stories

Emily Priestman

A 2013 Time to Shine Intern at Neighbourhood Network in Hull

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Jeannie Webster

Chairperson at Northern Hull Community Rainbow Gardens, part of Rank investment in Hull

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Mary-Jane Willows

A Rank funded primary fundraiser at Association of Young People with ME (AYME)

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