Building blocks

A Social Economy Data Lab Specification document is made up of a number of sections which detail the entities that can be described using the specification, and the properties it recognises.

The fundamental building block of the Social Economy Data Lab Specification is a deal. Deals have a number of direct properties and a number of related entities, including the organisations involved, classifications, financing and transactions, which in turn have properties.

For a full list of properties and entities referred to by the Specification, refer to the Schema.

Financial elements

Deals may comprise one or more forms of finance, typically a grant, a loan, and/or equity.

Grants are a form of non-repayable finance, while loans and equity are usually paid back by the recipient, often with interest and/or dividends.

Deals with multiple elements of repayable and non-repayable finance are sometimes referred to as "blended finance".

For example

Example 1. A social investment deal worth £20,000 made up of one element:
  • A £20,000 loan from a funding organisation, to be repaid over 10 years at 4.5% interest.
Example 2. A social investment deal worth £35,000 is made up of:
  • £15,000 of share capital raised by the recipient organisation through equity from a community shares offer; plus,
  • a £15,000 match-funded equity invested pari passu in the same community shares offer by a funding organisation; and,
  • a £5,000 business development grant from another funding organisation.
Example 3. A social investment deal worth £50,000 is made up of:
  • a £10,000 grant from Funder A, which has been used as leverage for:
  • a £40,000 loan from Funder B, repaid over 5 years at 3% interest.


Where a deal involves shares or some form of crowdfunding, an organisation may issue an offer document, in order to describe their fundraising targets and the goals of their project.


A deal is entered into by a number of parties, typically the funding organisation (or organisations, one of whom may be an arranging organisation) and the recipient organisation (or organisations).

Each of the funding organisations provide one or more elements of the financial elements of the deal. A single financial element may be provided by one or a number of different organisations.

Some deals may have a principal partner who takes the role of arranging the deal.

Recipient organisations receive the finance and are typically responsible for ensuring that any terms (such as repayment) are met, though it may be backed by another party.


Recipient organisations have at their core a social mission. They make use of social investment, and other forms of finance, to ensure that they are able to carry out projects that serve this mission. For example, they could be providing affordable housing to people at risk of homelessness, or they could be a community-owned shop selling locally-grown produce.

Usually, in seeking a social investment deal, recipients have a project in mind for making use of the finance, and the deal may well be contingent on demonstrating this purpose to investors (amongst other things). It may be that they are a community business requiring significant equity capital in order to purchase premises so that they can start trading, or it may be that they require loan financing in order to pay suppliers and ensure that they are able to grow.