Growing your organisation in tough times

By Eibhlin Ni Ogain 16 September 2011

Recession and funding cuts. Probably two of the most commonly heard words this year. If you are a charity or indeed any organisation with a social mission, you are probably wondering along with the other 171,000 Voluntary Sector Organisation’s out there how you are going to weather this particular storm. In a research report that NPC presented last week at the annual NCVO Researching the Voluntary Sector conference, we examined whether social enterprise might offer a more resilient funding structure. This is based on an evaluation that we carried out for the School for Social Entrepreneurs last year. Our findings showed that the 153  social enterprises who responded to our survey were 20% more likely to survive for 5 years than the average UK business, had very high annual growth rates and reported growth even during the recession. Interestingly, the reasons behind this resiliency seems to lie, not in the fact that the organisations are social enterprises but in the way they combine commercial income with traditional charitable funding (public grants and contracts as well as funding from grant-making trusts). This diversity in funding seems to act as a stabiliser to organisations in tougher times. Although the research was with a small and select group, it offers some interesting lessons for all organisations with a social mission wishing to make their work more sustainable.

Read more about the research in today’s Guardian Social Enterprise Network blog or download the full report.