Online Reporting Tool For Social Enterprises
27 October 2017 at 12:14 pm
A new online reporting tool for social enterprises has been launched to help balance both financial reporting requirements with social outcomes reporting.
The tool is the result of a research project from the Centre for Social Impact at Swinburne University of Technology (CSI Swinburne) and is part of the Bankwest Social Impact Series.
Previous research by CSI Swinburne found that due to the typically small nature of social enterprises, many entrepreneurs found it challenging to dedicate adequate resources for effective reporting on their financial and social performance.
The free Social Enterprise Reporting Tool (SERT) is available to all social enterprises, is described as the first of its kind in Australia.
Dr Chris Mason, SERT project lead and senior research fellow at CSI Swinburne said the need for the new tool was very clear.
“Effective reporting matters because it can help social enterprises to make better use of their data internally to inform business decisions, as well as strengthening their external communications in activities such as contract tenders, grant applications, or accessing investment or other finance,” Mason said.
“The research shows many social enterprises are struggling to meet the balance of their reporting requirements, in part because their mission is two-fold – financial sustainability and social impact.
“Having identified the need for a streamlined data-collection and reporting system, we’re excited to launch the prototype of the Social Enterprise Reporting Tool so that social enterprises can access much-needed, support for their specific reporting processes.”
Mason said building a resilient social enterprise could be challenging work.
“There is a need to balance usual reporting requirements of running a business with the ability to monitor and report on the social outcomes they generate. The tool has been favourably received by social entrepreneurs who have been involved in its testing,” he said.
Founder and director of Befriend, Nick Maisey, said he was excited by the accessibility and application of SERT.
“Aside from the tool being a useful way of pooling together our financial reporting with our social impact measurement, embedding its use into our operations will act as a useful prompt to reflect on our organisation’s progress,” Maisey said.
“Having a structured approach to strengthen our ability to track changes in both social impact and financial health over time is a vital step in helping social enterprises flourish.”