Good governance is essential for social enterprises to thrive and be sustainable, according to a new research report, For Love and Money: governance and social enterprise, from the Governance Hub and the Social Enterprise Coalition. The research, undertaken by The Open University, into the governance needs of social enterprises, shows that a priority for the social enterprise sector is to strengthen links with umbrella bodies, local agencies, and consultants working at local and regional levels and provide them with appropriate training and support.
Anne Moynihan, Head of Governance Hub, said: “The research was commissioned to identify gaps in the governance needs of social enterprises and make recommendations for future action. It also demonstrates the range of different types of social enterprises, and that the boundaries between the social enterprise sector and other sectors are very blurred.”
The research outlines that social enterprises have distinctive requirements for support and information on areas such as overseeing commercial activity and managing business risks, legal and governance structures for trading subsidiaries and small organisations, the governance of multi-organisation partnerships, achieving a balance between social and economic goals and the importance of managing relations with members and other stakeholders. However, the research also reveals that the governance advice sought by social enterprises needs to be tailored to different types of social enterprise, with their different values, structures, traditions and governance terminologies used.
Roger Spear, of the Co-operatives Research Unit at The Open University, said: “Other challenges arose from the particular origins of the social enterprises, whether they are public sector spinoffs, trading charities, co-operatives, or come from small business origins. This report proposes a number of measures to strengthen the support available to those who govern social enterprises, which will be important for maintaining the reputation of the sector and ensuring its long-term health.”
Jonathan Bland, Chief Executive of the Social Enterprise Coalition said: “The report has come at a very important time when social enterprises are growing and becoming increasingly important in many areas – public service delivery, welfare to work initiatives, emergence of ethical markets to name a few. The report needs to be taken up by Capacitybuilders, government and policy makers to create tailored pathways for business support and advice for social enterprise.”
The Governance Hub aims to improve the quality of governance within the voluntary and community sector across England by:
- Increasing the supply of trustees and board members, with the range of profiles, skills and experience needed by VCOs.
The Governance Hub is a partnership of nine organisations that provide support to the voluntary and community sector: Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (acevo), Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG), British Association of Settlements and Social Action Centres (bassac), Charity Trustee Networks (CTN), East Cornwall Council for Voluntary Services (ECCVS), National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (NACVA), National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), Social Enterprise Coalition (SEC) and Volunteering England. The accountable body for the Governance Hub is NCVO (charity number 225922).
There are six national hubs of expertise: Finance, Governance, ICT, Performance, Workforce and Volunteering. The hubs are part of ChangeUp, the Capacity Building* and Infrastructure Framework for the Voluntary and Community sector, published by the Active Community Unit in June 2004. ChangeUp's aim is that by 2014 the needs of frontline voluntary and community organisations will be met by support which is available nationwide, structured for maximum efficiency, offering excellent provision, accessible to all, truly reflecting and promoting diversity, and sustainably funded. ChangeUp describes the basic architecture of support which frontline organisations need. For more information please go to www.capacitybuilders.org.uk or call 0121 237 5100
The Social Enterprise Coalition is the UK’s national body for social enterprise. The voice for the sector, it supports and represents the work of its members, influences national policy and promotes best practice. www.socialenterprise.org.uk. For press enquiries contact Katy Duke 0207 793 2318 email@example.com.