Resonance Community Developers – forthcoming impact investment fund for community-led development across the UK

Lara Bell, Head of Community Assets, talks about the learning from our two Community Asset Funds and the forthcoming launch of our new Community Developer Fund.

With the publication of our latest Social Impact Report for the Affordable Homes Rental Fund and Community Share Underwriting Fund, this is a good moment to celebrate the achievements of the groups we’ve worked with over the last few years, and look ahead to inspire communities to get involved and launch their own initiatives through our new impact fund.

Our Community Share Underwriting Fund supported 14 projects with a total value of £30.1m and invested into a wide range of projects from hydro energy to a community farm, with £5.1m being directly underwritten by Resonance.  Our Affordable Homes Rental Fund supported 8 projects and invested £3.2m into 38 community-led homes, housing 86 adults and 57 children over its lifetime to date.

The annual Social Impact Report for our Community Asset Funds sets out the detail of all these achievements; and how the communities we’ve supported have gone on to start over 48 new projects and raise further investment, generating more confidence and positive outcomes – the real social impacts of these investments will continue for years, and even generations, to come.

Running these two funds enabled us to stimulate the market, gather evidence for where there was ongoing need, and strengthen our relationships with the community sector.  Building from this experience we are now nearing the launch of our follow-on impact fund for community-led asset projects – Resonance Community Developers – designed to invest at scale into community-led development, operate in perpetuity and blend a wider range of investment types; from local and central government, Foundations and impact investors, individuals & corporates.   The fund will offer investors a real, above-inflation return on investment and enable capital to be invested long term for social benefit. Critically, it will be able to invest into projects at an early stage in their development and see them right through to operations, partnering with local communities at every stage and bringing in valuable technical assistance to overcome barriers.

We recognise that investing into impactful community-led development needs trust and an in-depth knowledge at local level.  We are therefore busy setting up partnerships with local organisations who interact on a day-to-day basis with those communities who want to create local solutions to the issues of importance to them.

We are also keen to invest with communities who may not have always felt able to initiate their own solutions, or perhaps have felt disenfranchised and fragmented in the past; and our partners will be ready to support the formation of new community groups where there is a genuine desire to create social benefit.

Our initial partners are Active Gloucestershire, Cornwall Rural Community Charity, and Greater Manchester Community & Voluntary Organisation (GMCVO) working with Regenda Housing Association, to bring investment from Resonance Community Developers into three initial areas of Gloucestershire, Cornwall and Greater Manchester.  We will be launching the fund across more counties across the UK as new partnerships are set up.

In the early years, we will be focussing on helping communities create affordable homes, sports and leisure facilities, and renewable energy.  We know that these types of development are of keen interest to communities and that by bringing them into community ownership, surplus revenues can be generated and re-used within the local economy.

Achieving true community-led development takes collaboration, experience and plenty of energy.  We are at the start of this journey with many exciting projects and communities to work with over the coming years.  Keep an eye out and get in touch if you’d like to know more – through our local partnerships, we just might be investing in a project near you very soon.

Lara Bell
Head of Community Assets