SASC Social Club 2019

Leading a mission driven organisation is hugely rewarding. But the role Chief Executive can be a lonely one, and we have come to realise that strong networks are a powerful tool in ensuring you are the best you can be.

We recently invited the leaders of investee organisations to an event in London and gave them the opportunity to network and share their experiences and discuss with each other some of the challenges they face running their organisations.

We also took the opportunity to get feedback on way we work, the SASC investment process and to listen to any concerns or issues.

Earlier this year, we launched our new fund Social and Sustainable Housing (SASH) and so this event was also a perfect opportunity to hear directly from new investees including P3, Valley House, Target Housing and Active Prospects.

Creating an environment where we can benefit from honest feedback has always been a priority at SASC – we believe we can always improve, and that success can only be achieved if we are responsive to our borrowers’ needs and concerns.

Our discussions were facilitated by Craig Dearden Philips MBE – the founder of Social Club UK – a unique networking club where social sector leaders have space and time to learn from guest speakers and each other.

I was at the very first Social Club event in 2015. From the outset I recognised the value of the support and learning that comes from finding time to engage with others in the sector outside of the day to day schedule.

SASC offers and pays for Social Club membership for all our investees so those we support and believe in can benefit from the social club opportunity.

Our goal for the event was to recreate that environment for our investees and give them the opportunity to share experiences and work in small groups to discuss any issues or problems.

During the day we tackled issues as wide ranging as our Investment Committee meetings, the legal paperwork needed to complete deals, and how engagement with us compares to other lenders. It is always useful to understand how people view working with us so that we can make the process as painless and straight forward as possible.

This opportunity for discussion and feedback led to a number of concrete proposals for positive change that will help us improve our investee experience, and we will endeavour to act upon them swiftly. I am hopeful that these refinements will improve our capacity to serve third sector borrowers in a way that is meaningful to them.

On a less practical note, it was also a great opportunity for us to spend time with our borrowers outside of the strictures of doing a deal. These sessions always confirm our belief that the social organisations we work with are outstanding, not least because the staff are all so personally motivated to help their vulnerable clients. To enjoy a day discussing common interests and uncovering individual passions helps shape our working relationships for the year ahead.

I enjoy this event every time we host it. As the SASC family grows, I look forward to sharing best practice, learning and a mutual sense of purpose with an increasing number of social sector leaders across the UK.