How we create change, and how we prove and improve our approach

SSE isn’t just one organisation helping some people. We support more than 1,000 leaders of social change each year, who in turn help tens of thousands of people and tackle endless social and environmental problems. Supporting social entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs means we can massively multiply our impact.

It’s something we like to call “the SSE effect”…


Our impact at a glance

We recently appointed CAN Invest and Investing for Good to evaluate our biggest UK programme, which has supported 1,300 social entrepreneurs over five years. That’s the Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland Social Entrepreneurs Programme, which is run in partnership with SSE and jointly funded by Big Lottery Fund.

The evaluation found that our programme is unique in its scale and design. They looked at the impact of SSE, and the wider impact of our students, who are from diverse backgrounds and regions across the UK. Some of the findings are shared below.

Read the full report here

Who do we support?

  • 50% of students are working in the 20% most deprived geographical communities in the UK
  • 1 in 4 students have direct experience of the social issue they aim to address

How do SSE students create a better society?

Our students are tackling an enormous range of urgent social and environmental issues. And many are pioneers in their areas – some 80% of students say their social enterprise is the first of its kind in their community.

Here are some of the issues that our students often focus on:

  • tackling widening health inequalities through food and nutrition
  • creating flexible work opportunities for people with disabilities
  • preventing homelessness among young care leavers
  • connecting people and communities
  • encouraging enterprising behaviours from an early age

Find out how you can support SSE’s work

Find out more about the impact of our students by watching this video of Nick Green, founder of Incredible Farm:

How do our programmes help students?

  • 83% of students feel more confident in being able to achieve positive social/environmental impact as a result of the programme
  • 77% feel more confident about being able to measure their impact as a result of the programme
  • 75% agree or strongly agree that the programme has contributed to the greater financial sustainability of their organisation
  • 88% link their increase in turnover at least partly to their SSE course
  • 95% have stayed in contact with people they met during the programme

How does SSE benefit the economy?

Forecasts suggest over 7,000 jobs will be created over the first five years of the Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneurs Programme. This is based on findings to date that show each student’s organisation creates, on average, 2.3 jobs.

Our support helps our students to create jobs for people who might not otherwise find work. Some 59% of students’ employees are typically disadvantaged in the workplace.

Many of our students recruit volunteers from the local community to support their organisations. By doing so they help support local residents, including those whose may be considered vulnerable due to their circumstances.

Want an in-depth look at SSE’s recent work?

Read our 2017-18 Trustees Annual Report

You can also read the evaluations at the bottom of this page. Please contact us for further info.

SSE’s theory of change

A “theory of change” is a way of explaining the overall change in society that an organisation hopes to create, and how all the things the organisation does aim to create that change.

The School for Social Entrepreneurs completed a big project to articulate our theory of change in 2016.

Our theory of change focuses on what we do and what we enable, because the people we support themselves go on to create many different types of social and environmental impact.

In the slides below, the blue circles illustrate what we do. They show the activities SSE undertakes to support individuals on a learning journey and the outcomes that are achieved for the student and their organisation.

The pink circles illustrate what we enable. They show the outcomes achieved by the student and their organisation for people and communities… and how, by being part of the SSE community, we achieve social change together.

(Can’t read the slides? Download a pdf of SSE’s theory of change here.)

How we measure our impact

As a charity, we know how important it is to measure the impact of our work. It helps us prove that SSE makes a difference to society. It also guides us on improving our work where things haven’t gone as we expected.

We internally evaluate all our courses, to ensure they meet expectations, and so we can keep learning.

Every few years, we also invite external organisations to evaluate our work. This gives us a completely unbiased view of SSE’s work, including hard data on the impact we have on our students and their organisations.

Download our major external evaluations below.

External evaluations of SSE’s impact

Social Impact Review: LLoyds Bank and Bank of Scotland Social Entrepreneurs Programme, in partnership with SSE (2016)

CAN Invest and Numbers for Good evaluated our biggest UK programme, looking at the impact of its first five years.

Download report

A Report on Social Enterprise Training in the UK (2013)

In 2013 we contracted Mark Richardson, of Social Impact Consulting, to carry out research examining the training needs of social entrepreneurs in the UK.  The key findings, which we have used to shape our course offering, are available in this summary report.

Download report

Scaling to Success Evaluation (2011)

Completed by Rocket Science, this evaluation looks at Scaling to Success, a 2010/2011 pilot training programme delivered by SSE.  The programme has since evolved to become ‘Replication and Social Franchising‘, which is still delivered each year.

Download report

Impact Evaluation Report (2011)

New Philanthropy Capital completed an organisation-wide impact evaluation, looking at SSE’s impact from 1997 to 2011.

Download report

SSE Cultural Leadership Programme (2008)

The New Economics Foundation evaluated the efficacy and transformative effect of the SSE approach and methodology. It looked at students of our Cultural Leadership Programme 2007/2008, and their organisations.

Download report

Want to help us create more impact?

Find out how you can support SSE’s work