Social Enterprise Research

Social enterprise research
Posted on MAY 7th, 2015 by  xh3vxs4f3w0rd15appl35
A social enterprise is an organization that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being – this may include maximizing social impact rather than profits for external shareholders. Social enterprises can be structured as a for-profit or non-profit, and may take the form (depending in which country the entity exists and the legal forms available) of a co-operative, mutual organization, a disregarded entity, a social business, a benefit corporation, a community interest company or a charity organization.
Many commercial enterprises would consider themselves to have social objectives, but commitment to these objectives is motivated by the perception that such commitment will ultimately make the enterprise more financially valuable. These are organisations that might be more properly said to be operating corporate responsibility programs. Social enterprises differ in that their commitment to impact is central to the mission of the business. Some may not aim to offer any benefit to their investors, except where they believe that doing so will ultimately further their capacity to realize their social and environmental goals, although there is a huge amount of variation in forms and activities.
The term has a mixed and contested heritage due to its philanthropic roots in the United States, and cooperative roots in the United Kingdom, European Union and Asia. In the US, the term is associated with ‘doing charity by doing trade’, rather than ‘doing charity while doing trade’. In other countries, there is a much stronger emphasis on community organising and democratic control of capital and mutual principles, rather than philanthropy. In recent years, there has been a rise in the concept of social purpose businesses which pursue social responsibility directly, or raise funds for charitable projects.
Have you ever bought the Big Issue? Read it over a bar of Divine chocolate? Watched Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen? Visited the Eden Project? Shopped at the Co-op?
Well, then you already know a bit about social enterprises: businesses that are changing the world for the better.
Social enterprises are businesses that trade to tackle social problems, improve communities, people’s life chances, or the environment. They make their money from selling goods and services in the open market, but they reinvest their profits back into the business or the local community. and so when they profit, society profits.
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Social enterprises are in our communities and on our high streets – from coffee shops and cinemas, to pubs and leisure centres, banks and bus companies.
The term ‘social enterprise’ came about from recognition that in the UK and across the world, there were organisations using the power of business to bring about social and environmental change without a single term to unite them.
Since the term started being more widely used in the mid 1990s, there has been a lot of discussion and sometimes confusion about what social enterprise is. At Social Enterprise UK we feel we must be clear but pragmatic when it comes to defining social enterprise. Here are what we believe are the characteristics of a social enterprise.

•Have a clear social and/or environmental mission set out in their governing documents

  • Generate the majority of their income through trade

• Reinvest the majority of their profits
• Be autonomous of state
•  Be majority controlled in the interests of the social mission
• Be accountable and transparent
We are the national body for social enterprise. We represent our members and help grow the social enterprise movement.
Charities, social enterprises and voluntary organisations (also known as the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector) exist to help others, often helping people to improve their lives and communities. A vibrant civil society can also make a big contribution to economic growth and better public services.
These organisations are sometimes frustrated by red tape or other problems, or because they don’t have the support they need to do their work.
We want to make it easier to set up and run a charity, social enterprise or voluntary organisation, and for organisations to get the help and support they need to grow and be able to carry out more of their important work.
We are removing red tape and improving regulation by:
• dealing with barriers and bureaucracy identified through the Red Tape Challenge and the Unshackling good neighbours report
• introducing a new legal structure for charities – the Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) – that will make it easier to set up and run a charity
• putting Lord Hodgson’s recommendations from his review of the Charities Act 2006 into action
We are improving the support available to VCSE organisations by:
• increasing the number of volunteers, supporters, and partners involved with the sector and helping them to adapt to new challenges through the Transforming Local Infrastructure Program, the Strategic Partners Fund and the Advice Services Transition Fund
• raising awareness of the Compact across government
• helping charities and social enterprises find funding and finance by supporting the Funding Central and Contracts Finder portals
We will help the VCSE sector grow its skills and leadership talent, and manage new opportunities and risks better by:
• supporting Dame Mary Marsh’s review of VCSE skills and leadership – which reported in spring 2013
• running Commercial Skills Master classes in 2013 – with the help of the VCSE sector and private sector – to help VCSE organisations develop useful commercial skills
• working with partners to support the sector’s digital capability
• encouraging VCSE organisations to take advantage of community rights – helping communities take greater control of their local area
We have extended an exception (allowing some religious charities not to register with the Charity Commission) until 31 March 2021. This will give the charities and the Charity Commission time to prepare as all charities move towards consistent regulation.
The Office for Civil Society was created to support and strengthen the varied range of organisations that make up civil society. Its long term strategy is built around 3 goals:
• make it easier to run a charity, social enterprise or voluntary organisation
• get more resources into the sector and strengthen its independence and resilience
• make it easier for civil society organisations to do business with the state
These were set out in Building a stronger civil society: a strategy for voluntary and community groups, charities and social enterprises, published in 2010.
The coalition program for government included the government’s plans for reform and set out how government intends to give communities more power and encourage people to take an active role in their communities.
Who we’ve consulted
In May 2012, the Civil Society Red Tape Challenge put 3 questions to the public and civil society organisations (CSOs) about what they think will make it easier to be able to run or be involved in a civil society organisation:
• is there red tape that stops you giving your time or money?
• if you run a civil society organisation are there rules and regulations that stop you making it more successful?
• should it be easier to invest in social ventures?
The Civil Society Red Tape Challenge was open to answers and suggestions from May to mid-September 2012. We are now taking action to tackle the existing rules and regulations that are getting in the way of civil society organisations.
Bills and legislation
The Charities Act 2011 provides the legal and regulatory framework for charities in England and Wales and combines previous charity legislation. The act covers important rules, such as the definition of a charity, the requirement of charities to register with the Charity Commission, and how to prepare and submit annual accounts and reports.
The Charities Act 1992 and Charities Act 2006 contain some important rules on fundraising.
Who we’re working with
As representatives of a broad cross-section of civil society organisations, the Office for Civil Society Strategic Partners help their members understand and benefit from new opportunities arising from the government’s localism, open public services and giving agendas.
The Office for Civil Society Strategic Partners program funds 8 VCSE sector partners to:
• represent the sector to government
• support partners so they can become independent of government funding
• support the development of a stronger civil society by running training and development activities, contributing to policy development, and working with civil society organisations
We are providing around £8.2 million in funding over the 4 year programme. The largest portion is given in the first year with the amount decreasing each year.
There are 8 strategic partners:
• Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO), in partnership with Euclid Network and New Philanthropy Capital (NPC)
• National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) – including Volunteering England
• National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA)
• Locality
• UK Community Foundations (UKCF) in partnership with Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF)
• Institute of Fundraising
• Social Entrepreneurship Partnership (School for Social Entrepreneurs, UnLtd, CAN, Plunkett Foundation and Social Firms UK)
• Social Enterprise UK in partnership with Co-operatives UK
There are 3 main features to the commitments the strategic partners made as part of the program:
1. Continued representation of the sector to government and vice-versa, including providing visits and events for ministers and officials – a main requirement of the programme
2. Office for Civil Society (OCS) Priority Themes – these are a small number of cross-cutting themes that the Strategic Partners work together on and share expertise, with an aim to achieve better results for the sector
3. Partners’ specific offer to the Office for Civil Society – these activities were included in their original bids to join the program and, in many cases, involve their core activities and help support the program’s objectives eg NCVO’s Third Sector Almanac
The money is used to go back in to the community to create more jobs etc… because there is no share holders so only the rich get richer.


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