Defining deprivation and disadvantage

SSE sites its centres (try saying that in a hurry) in areas of ‘social deprivation’ or ‘disadvantage’, although we are probably as guilty as others at times at bandying around those terms without fully understanding what we mean by them. There are, of course, areas of deprivation in need of regeneration pretty much everywhere, and sometimes in different ways to what you expect. I was recently in Cornwall discussing the potential for an SSE down there, and there was much discussion about how the model and methodology had worked in rural as well as urban areas, and the various challenges that brought (transport, access, buildings, infrastructure). Then, towards the end of the conversation, one person mentioned that one of the biggest/most troubled estates (block, rather than land!) was also in the area; so actually, our work on inner city London estates had as much relevance as our work in the former coal-mining areas in East Midlands or Fife.

Speaking of Fife, the Fife SSE is based in Lochgelly whose Wikipedia page describes it as follows: "It was originally a mining town, but with the industry now dead the
town has slipped into economic and social deprivation as with other
former mining towns. Lochgelly is now classed as a town in need of
regeneration "economically and socially".
Good to know that Wikipedia agrees with us. Anyway, I was reminded about Lochgelly because it has long been reported as the place with the cheapest house prices in the UK, but this week we were told that its average house price went above £100,000 for the first time (£104,738 to be precise). One indicator of deprivation/need for regeneration need, perhaps, but merely one of many (and one fraught with many complexities). Still, I don’t think there will be an SSE Kensington and Chelsea anytime soon.

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Celebrating success: should we?

Celebration and recognition are widely viewed as important parts of promoting organisations, giving them credibility and disseminating good practice. One graphic of the "social entrepreneurship ecosystem" (don’t ask) I’ve seen parcels it up into four areas: thought leadership, skill sharing, financing and recognition. The latter including Edge Upstarts, Enterprising Solutions, Ernst and Young (Social) Entrepreneur of the Year, as well as wider third sector awards (Third Sector magazine, Guardian awards etc.).

This article by John Burton of the World Land Trust (pointed out by the Charity blog), begs to differ:

"I abhor the very concept of reducing charity work to this level.
Hopefully a few of us do it because we believe in the cause, and not
simply to get an award at some Hollywood-style ceremony. But worse is
to come, because to attend these awards’ ceremonies, a place at the
table is £141.35 a head (for charity workers), or £1175 + VAT for a
table of 10.

Is this really what supporters of a charity
expect their money to be spent on? Is this really how they expect staff
and Trustees to be spending their time?

And of course only a few
charities can afford the time and money to actually enter into a
competition to become ‘Charity of the Year’ or be nominated the
‘Trustee Board of the Year’. And not everyone has the ego that needs to
be the ‘Finance Director of the Year’. Clearly awards like these are
going to be influenced by money and size — particularly when there is
an award for the ‘Best Charity to Work for’ and it’s decided by
internet voting.

The problem is that some members of the
public will assume that these awards have real meaning, and that will
mean that a charity which has spent an undisclosed amount of time and
effort winning an award, is presumed better than one that has not done
so. If the awards were chosen by an independent group of assessors,
reviewing all charities against published criteria, there might be some
value, but as they stand I believe them to do more harm than good.

there does not appear to be an award for the charity that has ‘done
most to achieve its charitable objectives, for the least amount of

These gripes are, specifically, about the Charity Times UK Charity Awards and I think that’s important to say because, frankly, lots of the awards (certainly most of those I mention above) are chosen by an independent group of assessors, don’t charge massive amounts to come to the winning ceremony (if at all), do praise effectiveness in outcomes and so on. Many of these awards have also drawn attention to smaller, innovative organisations – indeed, awards are often one of the few areas where such organisations CAN compete with the big ‘corporates’ of the third sector.

I think John also underestimates how much an award can do for an organisation’s profile, morale and credibility. External recognition is hugely important for this, something I’ve seen as a judge (on CAF’s CCI awards), and SSE has seen as an organisation (Highly Commended in Charity Awards 2004), but also which we have found in our work: recognition and celebration are key for raising social entrepreneurs’ confidence, their credibility as a leader of an effective organisation, and an understanding of their own value (and the value of their work). When this is recognised at our Fellowship events by politicians and stakeholders, by the praise of funders or investors, or by their own peers, the effects are substantial.

A small example: Debbie Ariyo, the SSE Fellow who founded and runs AFRUCA, recently got a substantial grant from the Big Lottery Fund confirmed, which will enable the organisation to grow and deliver its important campaigning, research, and policy work on child trafficking and abuse. On e-mailing this to the SSE Fellowship, quite a few have since written in congratulating Debbie, saying how important her work is, asking for links to her website, and generally giving a big thumbs-up. It’s not the same as the money, but it still matters a great deal.

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St George’s Day social enterprise round-up

In a radical change to the normal Friday round-up, a post-weekend run-down of recent news and views of interest:

Nigel Kershaw is a “dream catcher”, according to the Guardian in this article….He’s certainly one of the biggest and brightest personalities in the sector, and this feature captures that well (sample snippet: “Kershaw thinks the comparison [of Big Invest] with private equity firms is “fucking marvellous” “).

– The Scarman Trust, which has been undergoing various internal changes (even consulting the Charity Commission), has formally announced its relaunch as of last week. See this article in New Start which reveals that Matthew Pike will return as Chief Executive, and head up a new Scarman Institute with a wider policy (and international) brief.

The plan for the rest of the Trust includes “the creation of a UK network of community investment funds at a neighbourhood level, continuing work with social enterprises and coaching public sector agencies”.

– Charities warned to not jump on the social enterprise bandwagon; a Cass report “urges organisations to resist pressure to develop a social
enterprise arm if they are not convinced there is an adequate market
for their product or service.”

– The blog of Wouter Kersten is interesting; he’s part of the team running Enviu, a Dutch environmental organisations…recent posts of interest include facilitating a session with social entrepreneurs and the purpose of a new legal entity; the latter also includes the marvellous Dutch term for social entrepreneur: maatschappelijke onderneming

Lucy Bernholz points to a new blog with a variety of thinkers and practitioners in this wide field, over at Sharing Witness. You can sign up to various feeds, which includes Business and Social Entrepreneurship

– Kevin Jones of Xigi was telling me that their mapping led them to the finding that Lucy Bernholz was the most well-connected person on their network; I’m intrigued by Xigi, and am discussing various uses with Kevin….in the meantime, I’ve finally got round to mapping the SSE network (or some of it!); see what you think:

make your own map at,imitazioni borse

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Podcasts, monetising, subscribing and doingtherightthing

A self-confessed mish-mash of a post coming up, thinly connected by the golden thread of blogging (possible title of memoirs no. 345: "The Golden Thread of Blogging"). Anyway, things for your attention:

INSEAD, whose Knowledgecasts I referred to in a previous podcast round-up, have started a new series called "Leadercasts". While some are probably more relevant than others to social entrepreneurs out there (i.e. leading a multinational pharmaceutical less so; leading for environmental and social impact more so), these are good quality, both in content and production

– Was interested to read that one of the few blogs focusing in this area (though more broadly: social entrepreneurship, CSR, international development, philanthropy etc.),, is looking for a professional blogger to keep it going; I hadn’t realised the blogger was being paid, and surprised (naively?) to realise there was money in this field. Anyway, hopefully, someone as good as Audeamus part 1 will take over soon….

– Monetising the feed, or your RSS is also a recurrent message from our Feedburner account; thus far have resisted its wiles, and used it primarily to keep tabs on our subscribers via Google, Bloglines, Akregator, Newsgator, SharpReader, Yahoo and, marvellously, Zhuaxia. Zhuaxia, for those as ignorant as myself, is a "socialized RSS reader for Chinese web users", which signals our global reach….comments, suggestions and feedback always welcome from all subscribers, wherever you are

– And finally, sticking tenuously to the blog/web 2.0 theme, here’s an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, featuring not just web entrepreneurs, but web social entrepreneurs….social netpreneurs? Anyway, features Dotherightthing, Zaadz etc; see Responsibility is in their sites and have a read, despite the eye-wateringly bad headline pun…

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TEDTalks – real video conferencing

Just a brief end of Friday note. Have recently been enjoying various TED Talks from the famous conference which have been made available as video downloads (which you can subscribe to via iTunes or view online). Favourites thus far include:

and, best of all, Hans Rosling of Gapminder fame [reminded via Steve Bridger / nfp 2.0]. Enjoy.

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