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Social Enterprise ‘Unrecognised’ - Study


6 February 2012 at 9:34 am
Staff Reporter
‘Social enterprise’ is an apparently unrecognised term to the general public, with nearly one-third of people in the U.K having never heard of it, according to a recent study.

Staff Reporter | 6 February 2012 at 9:34 am


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Social Enterprise ‘Unrecognised’ - Study
6 February 2012 at 9:34 am

‘Social enterprise’ is an apparently unrecognised term to the general public, with nearly one-third of people in the U.K having never heard of it, according to a recent study.

The study, carried out by YouGov on behalf of Charity Finance, quizzed more than 2,000 people and found that 33 percent had never heard of the term.

The study found that just over 30 percent of those questioned thought it meant a business that is more interested in social or environmental goals, than in making money for owners or shareholders.

Having had a general description of social enterprise explained to them, more than one in four respondents said they would be more likely to use or buy products or services from a business calling itself a social enterprise.

Dr Michael Wagstaff, head of public sector consulting at YouGov, said that the results show the latent demand for products provided by social enterprises does not automatically translate into delivery of public services.

In Australia, Dr Michael Moran from the Asia-Pacific Centre for Social Investment & Philanthropy at Swinburne University said he was not surprised with the results.

“What is surprising is that fully two thirds of the public have heard the term,” he said. “That said, social enterprise is arguably more embedded within the Not for Profit sector in the UK than in Australia.”

Dr Moran also said he thought the results of a similar survey in Australia would be “significantly lower”.

“Outside of the Not for Profit sector and specialist sections of government, academia and the private sector the term would have limited traction,” he said.

“This is not to say that Australia does not have a vibrant and growing social enterprise sector but that the term – as with other terms like the ‘third sector’ – have limited traction with the broader public.”  

 

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2 comments

  • John Coxon John Coxon says:

    Any lack of awareness around what social enterprise is suggest those involved in social enterprise may have some work to do.

    A key reason, perhaps, for some people to purchase a service or product from a nonprofit social enterprise might be that any surpluses are used to meet community needs. How many potential consumer would know about or understand the full community benefit of a social enterprise?

    The research also suggests a weakness in marketing by those operating social enterprise. The community benefit from a social enterprise offers marketing opportunities and messages that may not be available to a for profit business.

  • Jason M Quin Jason M Quin says:

    … before social enterprise is a household name.
    However, the aim of the ‘movement’ is not to achieve widespread recognition, but to transform the way we understand the activities of organisations and businesses: the convergence of social impact, CSR, sustainability, social business, integrated reporting, social entrepreneurship, triple bottom-line etc.
    When everyone knows what social enterprise means – and not social media for big business – we won’t need the term anymore, all enterprise will account for, and be measured by its holistic impact. Or as Bill Drayton from Ashoka evangelises, we’ll live in a society where “everyone’s a changemaker”.

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