UK social enterprises increased their turnover by an average of 61 per cent last year, according to a new survey.
The seventh annual NatWest SE100 Data Report is based on financial information for more than 2,000 social enterprises with a total turnover of £8.5bn.
Growth in turnover for the 100 fastest-growing organisations was 932 per cent.
Organisations trading for less than three years were discounted from the growth figures to give a more accurate picture. Only the technology sector grew faster, the report says.
But the report says the overall rate of growth slowed: last year’s 61 per cent increase in turnover was below the four-year average of 73 per cent. The sector also remained volatile, the report says, with turnover declining at 42 per cent of organisations.
Tim West, chief executive of the creative agency Matter&Co, co-creator of the index, said Brexit might have caused the slight slowdown in 2016, but overall growth remained impressive.
Asked whether the figures suggested more charities should consider becoming social enterprises, West said it depended on the extent to which trading supported their mission.
"It’s worth charity boards having open and honest discussions about whether the way they are supporting their missions is appropriate and whether there are other ways of bringing in revenue to support them," he added.
The report names the social landlord the Anchor Trust as the largest social enterprise by turnover (£367m) and by staff numbers (8,600).
Mark Parsons, head of community finance and social enterprise at RBS, which owns NatWest, said the report "reveals a social enterprise sector that is growing in both strength and maturity".