From Charity to Social Enteprise

Monday night we held an engaging panel discussion - From Charity to Social Enterprise.

The was an oppotunity for many to ask their questions, especially at a time when there is uncertainty about the funding environment, changes to the commissioning process, cuts to local authority funding, and growing donor disillusion, and social investment taking off, and a significant increase in interest from charities about developing a social enterprise. Our Speaker included Tom Levitt, Chairman at Fair For You, Cosmina Popa, CEO at Rainmaker Foundation and Lauren Meyer, Legal Manager, Trust Law.

Here are just some of the top take-aways and notes from the evening.

1. Charity & Social Enterprise share a common definition that they both reinvest in doing social good. Charities differ from funding through grants or donations whereas social enterprise trade through selling product and services to customers.

2. Becoming a social enterprise does not mean changing the ethos and values of your organisation. Your social mission remains the same and is the starting point for your social enterprise.

3. Becoming a social enterprise doesn’t necessarily involve changing your legal structure. Different options are more or less relevant depending on size of organisation and the kind of activities you carry out. Seek legal advise, Trust Law offers free advise to non-profit and social enterprises.

4. The different approaches to adopting a social enterprise model include:

i - Adopting the social enterprise approach within your existing organisation e.g Made in Hackney.

ii - Setting up a socially enterprising activity connected to your organisation e.g Fair For You.

iii - Setting up a social enterprise not connected by your organisation to generate income. e.g Toms

5. Understand what is mission and why you are doing this. Not necessary every organisation will be suitable or have the need.

6. Consider what needs to change:

  • Appetite for risk - Social enterprises are businesses that have to sell things.

  • Leadership - Easy to instil early and when an organisation is small.

  • Language - What are you selling? There’s a difference between satisfying funders vs customers.

  • Adopting a commercial mind set - Understand generates a profit, who are the customers and where is the interest.

  • Business Plan.

7. It is a good time.

i - The Social Value Acts (Jan 2013) has brought a change to the public sector, asking agencies to consider wider social value when they’re are commissioning services. That means that rather than just awarding contracts to the company that offers the lowest price, they will be expected to consider the social and environmental benefits offered by organisations such as social enterprises.

ii - Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is becoming more main stream as businesses are working more towards sustainability goals. Increasingly we are seeing more copropate partnerships forgeing with Social Enterprises.

iii- The UK is widely recognised as the most advanced social investment market in the world. Big Society Capital, reported Social investment deal-flow in the 2015 calendar year saw around £427m of deals committed to around 700 charities and social enterprises.

If you or your organisation will like to discuss further on how you can enterprise your ideas or will like a free consultation, please do not hesitate to get in contact with Lily via email:

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