Social enterprises remain confident in the face of COVID-19
1 December 2020 at 7:57 pm
But experts say full recovery of the sector will be slow and require support
Despite the challenges of COVID-19, the majority of social enterprises are confident their businesses will be financially stable over the next three months, and even have plans to grow their organisations, new research reveals.
Released as part of the Centre for Social Impact’s (CSI) Pulse of the For-Purpose Sector survey, the data shows 74 per cent of surveyed organisations were confident their social enterprises would be financially sustainable in the next three months.
Confidence dropped slightly over a 12 month outlook, however more than half of the respondents remained confident. Further to that, 64 per cent of organisations said they were in the process of growing their businesses.
Dr Joanne Qian, a researcher from CSI Swinburne, told Pro Bono News it was a “pleasant surprise” to see how confident the sector was in terms of financial stability, but that the significant damage done during the pandemic could not be ignored.
“We can see from the [survey results] that the damage is there and the recovery period might take months,” Qian said.
Announced back in May, the rapid-response research project is being used to understand and support the short-term needs of the sector, while also providing evidence for the longer term.
Recovery, but at a pace
The report found that in the three months prior to the survey taking place, profit and demand had plummeted for half or more of the surveyed organisations.
Just over 40 per cent of respondents said they expected to bounce back significantly in terms of demand in the months following the survey, while 27 per cent of participants said they believed their profits would increase during the same period.
One area the sector may struggle with is increasing staff numbers to grow their operations, with the report finding that predicted staff increases over the next three months are smaller than staff numbers lost in the previous three months.
Seeking financial help has also proved difficult for enterprise owners. A greater number (22 per cent) found it more difficult than those who found it easier (9 per cent) to access finance.
Qian said if the sector was going to recover at a fair pace, it was vital additional support from government and the corporate world was provided.
“The sector exists within an ecosystem of many different players and conditions that all need to work together in this recovery journey,” she said.
A sample size of 99 social enterprise owners was used for this arm of the research project, pulled from 524 responses in total. On average, these respondents had run their social enterprise for 16 years.
The full survey covering all areas of the for-purpose sector and how they have managed through COVID-19 and beyond will be released next week.
See a full copy of the social enterprise survey here.