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Getting the Message Across

One of the big issues that the social sector has is that not many people know about it. I mean the general and not-so-general public. In essence we have been poor at getting the ‘message’ across about the social economy and it’s importance. There are a lot of people who either have no idea of what it is or think that it has “something to do with charities.” Or worse, that it is some form of a ‘hand-out’ mentality. I have very educated friends who work in the financial services sector who just think it is a ‘waste of money.’

Use of the term ‘not-for-profit’ may explain some of this. It often has a negative connotation to the public at large. Yes, I know it is standard in the sector but again we need to be conscious that ‘perception is reality.’

Anyway, as the CEO of a social venture in New York pointed out last year, the only organisations she knows that are ‘not-for-profit’ are the traditional banking and airline industries!

In the UK’s strategy for social enterprise they are very explicit about not only the social sector’s social value creation, but also about the size of the sector (in terms of pounds and jobs). It would seem in our interest to identify this element of the sector strongly in the current environment – not only the jobs in the sector itself, but also the job creation part of the sector – particularly those involved in earned income strategies. 

I have highlighted these types of organisation several times in this blog, and there are some excellent entities in Ireland that are involved in retraining and job creation such as Speedpak, but we don’t have enough of them. Yet.

Again the lack of sources of finance and investment is a real problem. The level and type of philanthropy, particularly long-term venture philanthropy is a major issue. Growing the sector and helping those entities who have scale potential is difficult without capital. 

And in a sense this starts with having a stronger lobbying position and one central voice to promote the social enterprise sector. We need more evangelists.

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