Community | SEWF Events

How the Postcode Lottery Group empowers social enterprises through trust-based funding 

by Kasia Kotlarska / September 2023

In today’s rapidly changing world, we need new solutions to solve problems quickly and effectively, especially problems that deal with systemic issues. Social enterprises drive this change by pioneering solutions, collaborating with various sectors, fostering knowledge-sharing and focusing on scaling their impact to influence industries and consumer behaviour. As catalysts for broader systemic shifts, they require sustained, unrestricted funding to successfully navigate the complexity of their pioneering work. 

System change is a long-term and complex process and we cannot yet imagine what the end will look like. Any organisation trying to change a system should benefit from continuous and unrestricted funding. After all, they are pioneering solutions for complex challenges and they constantly need to adapt to changing circumstances.  

Unrestricted, long-term funding is the cornerstone of the funding philosophy of the Postcode Lottery Group. This is why the partnership with SEWF is a great fit. The Postcode Lottery Group started with the Dutch Postcode Lottery in 1989, a unique format based on postal codes (communities winning together) and subscriptions. It was founded with the sole mission to build a strong civil society by providing unrestricted long-term funding. The Postcode Lottery Group drives change by supporting good causes through funds raised by around 14 million lottery players in five European countries. Using their postcodes as ticket numbers, communities win together in monthly draws, with a significant percentage of the ticket price going toward charities. In 2022, thanks to the millions of loyal players, the Postcode Lottery Group achieved a milestone of €854 million in funding for over 1,150 charities and projects, both locally and internationally. This makes the Group one of the world’s largest private charity donors, creating significant change. 

Also read:  Michael Lim advises young social entrepreneurs to "find the tribe with your vibe"

“Flexible and long-term funding gives organisations the freedom to plan, innovate and execute their projects effectively. We believe in the power of trust, enabling these organisations to channel their resources where they are most needed. By providing stable financial support over an extended period, we empower them to make strategic decisions that lead to lasting impact. It’s not just about immediate results; it’s about creating sustainable change and transforming people’s lives in the long run.”  – Sigrid van Aken, CEO of the Postcode Lottery Group 

A man squatting in nature by the crops, inspecting the condition of the plants

To support social enterprises and other innovative initiatives, the Postcode Lottery founded the DOEN Foundation. DOEN is committed to accelerating the transition to a circular economy where everyone can participate, with room for radical thinkers who can show a new perspective to the world. DOEN’s mission is to support innovative enterprises that can spark the necessary change.  

Thanks to the lottery players, DOEN supports approximately 250 sustainable, social and creative pioneers every year with early-stage, high-risk financial support. SEWF speakers Fairphone, MUD Jeans and WEAR, just to name a few are all DOEN partners. But also, one of the two Co-hosts for SEWF23, Social Enterprise NL, has been supported by DOEN from the very start. 

DOEN has different financial instruments to support organisations at different levels of their growth, from grants to loans and equity investments. Grants can be for specific projects or institutional support. Thanks to these different instruments, DOEN can better support social enterprises. Often, a social enterprise first receives a grant or loan and, in some cases, DOEN Participaties (the impact investment arm of DOEN) can provide an equity investment. DOEN understands that plans often turn out differently and so they offer flexibility when this happens. This way, the partners or social enterprises can do what’s most needed at that moment. Therefore, DOEN has developed financial instruments as grants with dissolving conditions and it also provides institutional support.  

Also read:  We need leadership that prioritises people and the planet, not the wealthy and influential - Peter Holbrook

By recognising the indispensable roles of civil society organisations and social enterprises and by providing trust-based funding, we can collectively work towards building a more sustainable, just and inclusive future for generations to come. 

Are you a social investor planning to attend SEWF23 in Amsterdam and do you want to learn more about the Postcode Lottery Group and DOEN’s funding philosophy? Join the SEWF23 Fringe Day event on “Accelerating system change by providing trust-based funding” on October 10 2023.  

Written by SEWF23 Partner, the Postcode Lottery Group