Holly Piper

Head of CAF Venturesome

Charities Aid Foundation


1 July 2019

I was delighted to be on the Steering Group to organise this year’s “Gathering” and want to pay tribute to the commitment and focus of my fellow Steering Group members, and all of our other collaborators.

Having spent my early career in Management Consulting, the collaboration, diversity and values of the Social Investment sector continues to be a delight. Nowhere was this more evident than at this year’s “Gathering” of 130 social investors, social enterprises, funders and policymakers. Twenty-four hours in their company stimulated my thinking (and competitive nature...) and I wanted to share some of my personal highlights.

The Dan Show

Daniel Brewer and Danyal Sattar’s early-morning provocations, including Paul Miller’s impromptu reminder that user-led design must be at the heart of all products and services in our sector, or we risk being “Ubered”.

Whilst we at CAF Venturesome are extremely close to our investees, this provided a timely wake-up call to us to really challenge ourselves to be better at how we support our investees organisations.

Awakening the sleeping giants

Looking beyond the (occasional!) social investment echo chamber - for example, learning from housing associations (thanks to Jules Tompkins) and how some of the best associations proactively and continually support the communities they serve whilst running sustainable businesses.

Impact first versus finance first

A lively but good tempered debate on the different roles commercial and philanthropic capital can play.

Food for thought for us all, and I expect this debate will continue!

Much more detail on these and other sessions - and on the actions they led to - are in the beautiful Gathering report, published today by Pioneers Post.

Whether you were at the Gathering, are actively interested in social investment, or are deeply sceptical of seemingly indulgent echo-chamber discussions, it’s definitely worth a read.

Gathering illustration

If you’re interested in learning more about how social investment can support your organisation talk to our team on 03000 123 300 or email us at venturesome@cafonline.org and we’ll be happy to help.