Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Beam me up.

It has been... another... long day.

So I was in an odd mood when a student asked me to fill out some questions on Social Enterprise.

While there are many good examples I have come across, there are still way too many who know how to play the game and are supported by a system too lazy and inept to make the effort to really get the money where it will do the most good.

Here are the questions, along with my, often rather flip but still honest, answers:


1. Why do you feel there has been such a dramatic increase in the number of social enterprises over recent years?

We’ve pretty much messed the place up, so for our kids’ sake some feel it’s worth trying to get it back on track. Others see it as a nice comfy little earner, or nice on the resume.

2. Why do you feel the work carried out by social enterprises is so vital to the UK?

Because the more traditional bodies, such as government, have, are and will make a total fist of it as those in charge and those joining public service are no longer doing so with the primary aim of serving the public.

3. Do you think social enterprises are the best way forward to meet the social needs of the UK population – please state why?

Possibly. Yes because most efforts succeed mainly by being what people need and want, and hence get supported by those they are there trying to help. No if, and by my experience, when some simply see it as a way to pursue agendas more motivated by personal gain rather than any real social improvement.

4. How successful do you feel social enterprises have been in solving the social problems of local communities or society in general?

Some... a lot. Most.... Not so hot. Many simply add whole new layers of cost and interference into already crowded and under-funded areas.

5. Do you think the public and private sectors fail to fully address and satisfy the social needs of the UK and why?
(if yes, proceed to question 10, if no proceed to question 11)

Yes. Public by seeking to meet targets and career agendas rather than needs. Private by being way too short-term and looking only at the bottom line.

6. Do you believe the public and/or private sectors have the capabilities to fully accommodate for the social needs? – please provide details

Public... no. Not any more. The systems have been corrupted by the process being more important than the product... or service. Private... possibly. But it needs a real shift in bottom line mindsets that impact personal career developments in that sector.


7. How does this organisation compete for sources of income considering the competitiveness within the social economy is increasing?

Badly! It’s not what you are, but who you know. And how well you let box tickers tick the boxes and sign off the readies rather than any real attempt at creating viable social ROIs.

8. What is the main source of income the organisation receives?


9. Is there a procedure in place in the event of a lack of funding?

Dig deeper into personal bank account.

10. Do you feel there has been a significant change in the amount of support or funding provided by the public and corporations?

Yes, There seems to be a lot more about, but they still seem to keep most of it to themselves first building empires and armies of bean-counters before any gets doled out where it does the most good. And do corporations fund anything that is not their mate’s wife’s hairdresser’s favourite charity to look good at CSR report time in the annual AGM? Or what makes them more profit?


11. What are the main challenges faced by the organisation from both a short term and long term aspect?

Competition from those funded by government and quangos to unfairly compete on what should not be a commercial basis. Intellectual property raiding by private sector.

12. Are there any strategic plans in place to reduce or eliminate the impact these challenges could potentially have on the organisation?

Yes. If you can’t get them to join you, beat them and hope they rain on some other person’s parade. Win the public, and you win. There’s always the vote. For now.

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