Confusion reigns…

There’s an interesting piece over on the Civil Society website (thanks to Tony Clabby for this pointer)…. Interesting and frustrating, I should add.

Charities attending yesterday’s Charity Law Conference were told that calling yourself a social enterprise will help you win contracts and funding.

Really? There will be many in the social enterprise sector who will be surprised to hear this.

But joking aside, do read the piece — it is evidence of the profound confusion which still exists regarding social enterprise. Some of those quoted feel that social enterprise dilutes the charity ‘brand’; others that charities are old-fashioned and don’t understand the concept of earned or traded revenue.

Really, all of this somewhat misses the mark and one would have thought that attendees at a charity law conference might have been better informed and/or less prejudiced in their views..


Birmingham UK. Freelance research, evaluation and policy consultant specialising in social enterprise and the third sector. I maintain the BSSEC blog and website
  1. Paul Hanna Reply

    Very simply, being a social enterprise is not a “branding” choice. It is about the ethos and business model of your organisation – trading with a social purpose. Why does that always seem so hard for people to understand?

    • Alun Severn Reply

      Well said, Paul. And nice to hear from you here.

  2. Mark Ellerby Reply

    I kind of look at this from the customer view point; if the customer thinks a social enterprise will deliver ‘better’ than a charity it may be more to do with the customer’s understanding of what both are or are not to them. In reality, most charities ability to generate income is pretty good…for large ones it’s almost machine like, so I don’t think you could argue they need to ‘re-brand’ as a social enterprise to secure funding/contracts. Surely it’s about customer perception and organisational branding/marketing?

    Charities/social enterprises need to think about how they brand/market their organisation, their attitude to funders/commissioners and what their aims are. Demonstrating a more business like approach is proberbly going to be important to funders/commissioners now, but that doesn’t mean they have to be a social enterprise. I have worked with charities that have secured contracts because they are clear about who they are, what they do and how they deliver value, outcomes and social impact.

    Demonstrating results, not legal structure, that’s what counts!

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