A story in Third Sector Online today caught my eye — new research by SEUK suggests that we are at last seeing an increase in the proportion of charities and voluntary organisations buying from social enterprises. The proportion has risen from around 39% two years ago to 48%.
It is interesting that research in Birmingham in 2010 identified a similar problem. Back then, we found — to our surprise — that in the sample we examined, about 42% of social enterprises reported doing significant business with the third sector, but about 35% reported that they were doing no business at all with the third sector.
It was this — along with the continuing decline in public sector markets — that that was largely responsible for iSE’s Shop for Change campaign and directory. And it remains as relevant now as it was three years ago.
With public sector purchasing likely to continue to shrink well beyond the next election (and, according to some reports, beyond the one after that!), it has never been more important for social enterprises to find new customers and new markets. Using the purchasing of the wider third sector as a means of mutual support and growth — keeping spend in the social economy — is just commonsense, really. So if you’re looking to buy more from social enterprises have a look under ‘Finding social enterprises’ on this page of our website (scroll down about half-way).