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Author's profile photo Ryan van Leent

A fish out of water – my expedition into Social Enterprise – episode four

Yesterday I was racking my brain to think of a word to encapsulate the resilience, know-how and can-do-attitude of the Social Enterprise team members that I had interviewed last week. For some reason the image of shipping containers being used as temporary shopfronts in Christchurch came to mind and I immediately had it: resourceful! It’s been inspiring to witness how the people in our client organisation use whatever they have to hand to get the job done, how they pitch in wherever needed, and how their sense of purpose overrides their day-to-day frustrations. And it makes me realise that even having the opportunity to specialise in a particular discipline or industry is a luxury that most of us take too much for granted.

Yesterday was also our first opportunity to meet with the Board of Trustees – six highly accomplished individuals with a real sense of purpose and a shared goal of giving something back to their community. Top-of-mind for them is ensuring the continued financial viability of their Social Enterprise, so that it might continue to deliver its mission and increase its social impact. In addition to being resourceful, the Board is highly innovative – leveraging a broad range of commercial strategies and financial instruments in support of their charitable purpose.

This part of our engagement has been a real financial education for me, and we are fortunate to have a Chartered Accountant on our team to do the heavy lifting in this area! We’ve been considering a diverse range of potential funding sources from Government grants, corporate sponsorships and individual donations, to earned sources such as product sales, services revenues and financial investments. I’m learning that in the world of Social Enterprise before you can help others first you have to help yourself, which I guess I equate with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s approach to venture philanthropy.

In addition to our interviews late last week, we’ve been gathering insights by way of an anonymous survey. To that end, I’d like to enlist your expertise and opinions please… What is the key requirement for an organisation to be nationally recognised?

  1. Delivers impact on a national scale
  2. Has a national and international profile
  3. Is funded by the central Government
  4. Something else

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