The Social Enterprise Guide

March 2, 2012

Social Enterprise UK  is the national body for social enterprise and has a wealth of information, news, advice and resources on it’s website here http://www.socialenterprise.org.uk/.

The Social Enterprise Guide for people working in local government is full of really useful information and explains how social enterprises can help to meet many local authority strategic objectives, it also gives lots of practical advice about how teams within local authorities can engage with social enterprises to benefit their communities.

The guide contains some really useful information on the different legal models that social enterprises can take, ideas and information about commissioning and procurement and how to support the creation of social enterprises spinning out of the public sector.

The guide can be downloaded here: http://www.socialenterprise.org.uk/uploads/files/2012/02/local_authority_guide_final1.pdf

The resource library is here: http://www.socialenterprise.org.uk/advice-support/resources


Guide to measuring social impact

December 6, 2011

The SIM Handbook: West Sussex County Council’s guide to social impact measurement.

Organisations interested in social value, like social enterprises, often need to show they are making an impact with what they do. West Sussex County Council have produced a handbook on measuring the social impact of these kinds of organisations. It suggests creating a Storyboard from eight relevant questions (below) to formally plan and measure an organisation’s impact. This better understanding is useful for when they need to improve or communicate that impact. It is suitable for complete beginners as well as those who are regularly thinking about the impact they make.

It has a lot of information in 40 pages, including some sensible advice – such as “Often social impact measurement will seek to ‘measure everything and tell absolutely everyone about it’. This will drain your resources as an organization as well as yourself personally and will be quite ineffective!” – and some useful tips. It is low on jargon, but it does help if you are practiced in reading rather sprawling sentences – for example, “The Storyboard exercise provides an opportunity at the start of a project (and its evaluation) of bringing people together who stand to benefit (or who are already benefiting) from the work of an organisation, in order to plan the detailed actions and activities that need to be undertaken, identify where to look for evidence of impact, and generate interest and buy-in from potential partners. “  The sections on use of data, and commissioning and procurement are however rather basic – they may only be of use as introductions to these detailed subjects.

This accessible and thought-through approach to thinking about the impact of organisations could easily be used by Lambeth organisations intending to co-produce services.

Questions for the Storyboard method

1. What is the context in which your organisation operates, in terms of citizen’s needs?2. What are the main activities that are undertaken (or planned) as part of the organisation’s day-to-day running?

3. What initial results or changes have you seen (or would expect to see) as a result of these activities and actions?

4. What medium-term changes do you expect to see as a result of the work of the organisation?

5. What are the long term changes you create for:

  • Citizens. E.g. Independence, well-being?
  • What are the impacts on society or the economy more broadly?

6. How do the initial results (from Question 3 above) lead to the medium-term changes that you identified in response to Question 4?

7. How do the medium-term changes (from Question 4 above) lead to the longer-term changes that you identified in response to Question 5?

8. What challenges or barriers have you encountered (or foresee) in terms of: operational challenges; policy/ regulation barriers; other issues? 

West Sussex Social Impact Handbook


Mutual Business Detector from Mutuo

December 2, 2011

Mutuo, a not-for-profit society that supports the creation of new mutual organisations, has published a mutual business detector. The detector is designed to provide an initial indication of whether it will be possible to “spin out” a council service into a new mutual organisation.

The council have been involved in the development of the detector, having piloted the approach with a number of council services. It isn’t intended to provide a definitive answer as to whether a service should spin out, but does provide an indication of where the service does have a fit with a mutual approach and where there are challenges that would need to be overcome.

The test looks at a number of factors related to the service centred around three categories:

  • Suitability
  • Deliverability
  • Scale

The detector is available on the Mutuo website and includes full instructions of what to do. Using the detector shouldn’t take any more than 15 minutes so it really is a quick and simple tool.


Spin Out and Deliver – Social Enterprise London

November 25, 2011

Social Enterprise London (SEL) have published a new guide, Spin Out and Deliver, aimed at public sector workers who are considering setting up as a social enterprise. This short document contains useful information which has been drawn from interview SEL have conducted with people who are currently looking to “spin out” from council ownership to a social enterprise.

This guide forms part of a series of publications from SEL on spinning out, and they continue to conduct research into how public services are changing. Their emerging themes which are outlined in this report include:

  • The importance of leadership for organisations that spin out
  • The challenge of culture change – moving from working in the public sector to a social enterprise
  • The enthusiasm of front-line staff to move to a new model of ownership
  • Confusion over legal models, although the legal structure should fit the business not the other way around
  • Fears around staff transfer
  • The lack of time available to properly plan the development of the organisation
  • The lack of infrastructure support available to emerging spin-out organisations.

This guide also includes information about why establishing a social enterprise to run a public service can be a good idea; being an outstanding social enterprise leader; and steps to get started.

You can download a copy of Spin Out and Deliver, or any other SEL publications, from the SEL website.