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Social Traders is supporting an ongoing program of research to build a credible evidence base about the nature and contribution of social enterprise in Australia.
In 2009-10, we supported these research projects:
- Finding Australia's Social Enterprise Sector (FASES)
- Social Procurement
- Impact measurement for social enterprise
- Case study series
Social Traders partnered with the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies at Queensland University of Technology to map the social enterprise sector in Australia.
More information on the background of research can be found here: http://www.socialtraders.com.au/finding-australias-social-enterprise-sector-fases
The full report on findings can be found here: http://www.socialtraders.com.au/finding-australias-social-enterprise-sector-fases-final-report
Or the brief report here: http://www.socialtraders.com.au/finding-australia%E2%80%99s-social-enterprise-sector-summary-report
Social procurement is a means by which governments, organisations or individuals buying goods and services can use that buying power to achieve social outcomes. They can do this by choosing suppliers who deliver or demonstrate social impact, or by requiring that social impact benefits are a condition of the contractors they engage.
Social procurement is a key plank in the development of social enterprise. By recognising and putting a value on the social benefits that social enterprises generate, social procurement can increase the amount of work available to to them, enhancing their capacity to grow and achieve their mission. Read our Social Procurement page to find out about Social Traders social procurement activities and developments within Australia
Measuring and reporting on the impact of social enterprises is vitally important: for people intended to benefit from them; for those who fund them; who buy from them; who work in them, or who have other interests in them.
There are a variety of systems and approaches to define and measure impact. Which of these is right will depend on the purposes of impact measurement and the needs of different stakeholders, who will be variously interested in understanding, for example, the activities of the social enterprise, its measured performance, or whether it represents a worthwhile social investment.
Social Traders policy on social impact reporting
Social Traders believes that approaches to reporting social impact should have as many of the following characteristics as possible, recognising that some tradeoffs between these features are inevitable:
- They should focus on metrics that are simple and readily communicable to a wide range of audiences and which do not require prior knowledge or specialist expertise.
- They should be fit-for-purpose. That is, they should be simple or detailed in reporting on performance and value generated, according to:
- the size, nature and scale of the social enterprise;
- the practical applications of this kind of information.
- They should where possible utilise output/outcomes definitions that are recognisable by a wide range of agencies working to achieve similar kinds of social/economic/community impact. This will support funders and governments to more readily recognise, and where appropriate, to compare the social impact value that is reported.
- Though the resources and planning for social impact reporting should be built into any startup social enterprise, this should not be disproportionate to the overall resources available to advance the social mission of the enterprise.
- They should avoid overclaiming and should be of a standard that can withstand scrutiny or independent verification.
During 2009-2010, Social Traders conducted a small project to assist several Victorian social enterprises to start a Social Accounting and Audit process as a way to measure the social value created by their various social enterprises. Social Traders is using what it learned from this project to inform our future development of a guide to support social enterprise managers to report on social impact.
Social Traders has worked with social enterprises across Australia to capture practical case studies on a variety of forms of social enterprises. We will build on the existing base of case studies over the course of the year.
In addition to our own program of social enterprise research activities, we are interested in sharing the latest research developed in Australia and overseas. In the Tools and Resources section of our website you will find resources produced by Social Traders, such as info briefs about different social enterprise types, as well as a wide range of tools for practitioners and others interested in learning more about social enterprise. The resources provided on our website will grow as users like you submit materials you find helpful in your work.
Social Enterprise Employees Case Study Series
In May-June 2011, Social Traders will publish a series of case studies of individuals who have found work in social enterprises that were established to create employment and learning opportunities for unemployed or disadvantaged people. The case studies will illustrate the variety of social enterprise industry types, the kinds of employment and social support they provide, and the various ways they work with people from a wide range of life circumstances.