Meet Mary Rose Gunn, Founder and CEO at The Fore

Tell us about The Fore


There are thousands of innovative grassroots charities and social enterprises in the UK with scalable, cost-effective solutions to social problems. However, barriers to funding and skills in the charity sector are stopping them from making a significant impact because they can’t access the investment they need to scale. The Fore was created to disrupt the way the social sector is currently funded, in order to back the social unicorns of tomorrow.

Our mission is to bring small charities delivering incredible innovations, together with the funders and expertise that can help them scale their impact. We exist to turbo-charge those exceptional charities transforming lives and society. Our ambition is to fund and support 1,000 over the next five years.

A 2023 report from the Civil Society Commission highlighted The Fore as boosting productivity in a sector where accessing funding is generally acknowledged as a drain on already scarce resources.



What makes The Fore unique?


 Our unique approach is leading the way for positive change in the charity sector. We unlock and accelerate new solutions to today’s societal problems. Our proven platform and process is a means of connecting viable and ready for scaling social enterprises with donors who want to make bottom up, locally-owned change a reality.

We are the only organisation in the UK providing such a combination of wrap-around support, unrestricted, multi-year grant-funding of up to £30,000, training, skilled volunteers, and peer-to-peer networks. We also offer impact measurement training to ensure qualifying charities can demonstrate how they are succeeding in their missions.



How is the organisation making an impact on society?


The Fore is enabling communities to lead the way to a fair, healthy, just, and sustainable society. Our industry-leading support is proven to reach the highest-potential charities and amplify their impact. Our charities double their income within three years. So far, we have awarded around 600 grants across four areas: youth opportunity; mental health and well-being; social equity and inclusion; and sustainability.

We distributed £8.6m and facilitated almost 13,000 hours of skills sharing. Moreover, we support diversity and inclusion in social enterprise, with 68% of our charities led by women, 19% have Black, Asian or minority ethnic leadership, and 15% are led by people with disabilities.

One example is Innovating Minds, which offers accessible psychological support to disadvantaged young people within the school environment and to those who have experienced domestic abuse or trauma. The Fore’s grant helped the charity double the number of schools it worked with, increasing its financial sustainability and ability to take on social investment. We also introduced an investment advisor who now Chairs the charity.  For every £1 invested in Innovating Minds, the charity now delivers £19.62 in impact value.


How does The Fore help existing and potential donors?


Working with The Fore gives individual philanthropists, foundations and family trusts, bespoke access to a diverse portfolio of exceptional small charities and not-for-profits across the UK. Our rigorous, equitable and transparent approach enables us to screen thousands of small charities and social enterprises with a turnover under £0.5m, and identify exceptional leadership, innovative ideas and cost-effective solutions that will change the world. We bring together businesses, trusts and foundations, and individual philanthropist who want to create impact and share knowledge, expertise and skills within our community of charities.

We offer donor partners a pipeline of hundreds of ready-vetted, well-led charities and social enterprises, with new funding rounds three times a year.