Social Enterprise

We’re running some sessions over the next few months for CICs – all pretty much booked up (but hopefully we’ll be offering more later in the year).  We also work with a lot of fantastic CICs.  I’ve been mulling over what this model has brought to the sector.   

There are lots of advantages to setting up as a CIC rather than a charity – they are quicker to set up, more flexible in terms of roles, and easier for reporting.  CICs can often be more fleet of foot and have less guidance and laws to consider.  The disadvantages are generally around funding – many trusts still don’t fund CICs, and others are more reluctant than they might be if a charity applied for the same project.  Small CICs do also struggle with a lack of support too – the charity governance needing a board of trustees can provide more of this (though such boards are not necessarily providing the support and guidance that they should be). 

Originally, CICs were seen as being a route for organisations who were loosely ‘charitable’ to be more enterprising – to trade and do good at the same time.  There is a potential for a wide range of organisations from those who are mainly selling a product but commit to putting profits to good use, to those whose core aim is to support people in some way.  In reality, many CICs are reliant on grant funding and delivering activities that could easily be charitable… and many charities trade (or have a trading arm) and mix profit making and service delivery too. 

What is most important, is making sure the governance model works for the organisation.  That it enables you to work in the way you want to, provides support and challenge and ensures you are managing your resources well and for the most benefit for your beneficiaries/clients.  It should also be ensuring that the people within it are well supported. 

If you want to think about your governance model, or are thinking of setting up a new organisation, do take the time to talk through the options – with us, or your local CVS. 

NB there are other governance models including Co-ops which we haven’t focused on here…