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VAF has always believed that funders need to invest “more than just money” if they want to have positive social, environmental and economic impact and achieve long-term change. 

We are pleased to launch our partnership with Assist Social Capital online with a new blog and social media channels. Please click here to go to our Investing in Social Capital webpage.

Interested in hearing more?  Here is a film made during the Social Capital World Forum held in Netherton, Glasgow earlier this year https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYqUV9n2ncw


As a grant maker that values the relationship with funded organisations, we have developed our approach to include development support to, and sharing learning between organisations by providing knowledge transfer and networking opportunities. We know that this brings added benefits to the third sector and additional outcomes for the funder.

However, we have recognised in recent years that financial investment and capacity building alone do not guarantee lasting social change. Something is missing! VAF believes that the missing piece of the jigsaw is the need to develop connections, trust, relationships, shared values, and mutually beneficial support – in essence - social capital.

We also believe we need to build on strengths that already exist, and not solely focus on trying to fix things that appear to be wrong. In 2012, the VAF Board agreed to seek expertise from outside the organisation to help build our understanding of how to develop Social Capital in grant making. Although VAF had been working closely with organisations and partners to build connections and relationships, we were aware that we lacked the expertise in the theory, and how to develop policies and practice to maximise Social Capital.  VAF approached Assist Social Capital (Community Interest Company) in 2012 to help the organisation better understand the concept of Social Capital.  Since then, Assist Social Capital has worked closely with the VAF Board and staff to take a strategic approach to Social Capital development.  Training has been provided to build our knowledge and understanding, and also to explore how we can embed Social Capital development into our “more than just money” approach to grant making. 

Between 2015 - 16, seven organisations from across VAF funding programmes took part in an evaluation using online social capital tools.  The report can be found here.  This followed a successful pilot which operated in the Glasgow Third Sector Transformation Fund in 2014, with six funded organisations participating.  That report was published in March 2015.  Please click here to read the report.

Our Strategic Plan 2014 - 18

The development of social capital is a key theme running through VAF’s Strategic Plan 2014-18.  This was a significant step forward in VAF’s journey which allowed VAF to develop and better articulate our Vision, Mission and Strategic Aims. VAF’s experience of working with Assist Social Capital has been extremely positive and has resulted in a formal Strategic Partnership covering the period of our Strategic Plan.  Please click here to read a Summary of the Plan.

Social Capital Conversations

Since May 2014 VAF has had a number of social capital conversations involving the Third Sector, Academia and the Scottish Government.

Scottish Government: Learning Network Challenge Fund

VAF is delighted to have been awarded a grant through the Scottish Government's Learning Network Challenge Fund and to be working with Assist Social Capital and the New Gorbals Housing Association, Glasgow, to bring together a cluster of individuals and agencies interested in taking an asset based approach, to identify and further develop new models of community led regeneration, focusing on health and wellbeing.

This project will use social capital as a framework to find a common focus in the cluster of voluntary organisations in order to strengthen community in the Gorbals area of Glasgow.

The Project will identify existing local organisations already using asset based approaches. We will use the well researched Social Capital approach and theory to bring about resilience and establish an eco-system of services identified and coordinated by the Gorbals community and with good links to other Glasgow agencies. A report was submitted to the Scottish Government at the conclusion of the work in 2015.  Please click here to read a copy of the report.