Forget enterprise hype, says business consultant

Charities should beware the hype surrounding social enterprise, according to the author of a new report commissioned by the Centre for Charity Effectiveness at Cass Business School.

The report, which asks whether social enterprise is a good idea for charities, outlines the benefits and pitfalls of using enterprise as a way of generating extra income.

It urges organisations to resist pressure to develop a social enterprise arm if they are not convinced there is an adequate market for their product or service.

"There is so much hype about social enterprise that some people think it can create money out of nothing," said the report's author, Jean Barclay, a freelance consultant on business planning in the voluntary sector.

"Voluntary sector organisations can feel under pressure because social enterprises are seen as modern and dynamic, and charities can look old-fashioned in comparison. But the thing they're missing out is that charities were created for situations in which there was no market."

Barclay also emphasises that some charities can use social enterprises successfully. "Running a social enterprise can definitely be a good thing; it's just not necessarily the best way to fund a charity," she said.

The report also advises charities on the likely success of their ideas and provides guidance on their financial viability.

It was paid for by the Higher Education Funding Council through Cass and will be launched on 2 May at the business school.

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