Thursday round-up: CEOs, Clore, Kevin and Kiva

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Kevin 07 It's been a little while since the last round-up, so here goes:

– First up the big, breaking news is that Jonathan Bland is stepping down as CEO of the Social Enterprise Coalition, moving to Finland with his (Finnish) wife. Whilst, inevitably, there have been disagreements and criticisms of the Coalition in the last 6 years, as with all membership bodies, it (and social enterprise) are certainly in a markedly different place to where they were starting out. Needless to say, there is much buzz and e-mails about who is likely to succeed him.

– The Clore Social Leadership Programme has launched; it's an interesting (if slightly unclear because very bespoke) offering, modelled on the Clore Cultural Leadership Programme…aimed primarily at potential leaders in the third sector, with 5 years experience of some sort…but that can include trustees, employees of existing orgs, volunteers etc. SSE endorses the approach (action learning sets, mentoring, duration etc), and will watch with interest…

– Great article in the Sydney Morning Herald about a current SSE Australia student's project: congrats on the feature Jenni; and congrats to the other SSE students (Frances Jamieson  and Kristina Karasulas) featured in the photo top left, meeting PM Kevin Rudd and pitching their projects to him.

– In other SSE-related news, Intelligent Giving (started by SSE Fellow Dave Pitchford) has appointed a new man in charge, Richard Marsh, formerly of the Impact Coalition. A good appointment, methinks. Speaking of which, check out the posts we're recruiting for on our homepage

– One of the many highlights of Shine 09 was meeting up with Charlotte from La Ruche, a Paris-based organisation that we've been working with on another project. Check out the site: it's a Hub-type initiative, but with the added bonus of being in the French capital….

– New ideas have to create value, otherwise it's unnovation not innovation; so says the neologising Umair Haque

– Enjoyed these 5 myths of entrepreneurship

– There's a new Guinness Philanthropy Fund for social entrepreneurs in Ireland, who will be ably assisted by our good friends over at Social Entrepreneurs Ireland. I'll drink to that, etc.

– Great round-up of social enterprise and social finance organisations in Canada by the amazing Tonya Surman.

38degrees wants to be the UK's MoveOn. The right people are involved to make it happen….

– Nat@Change.org has a great post about Kiva which links to an article discussing their decisions about which legal structure to choose (amongst other interesting stuff); for comparison, check out this more critical view of Kiva's work (and micro-lending more generally) on Social Edge

– I can't remember if I linked to this before, but Paul Light is required (academic) reading on social entrepreneurship; check out his latest piece, Social Entrepreneurship revisited

– I should also have mentioned this already: much hyped and buzzed on twitter and the like, the Social Entrepreneur API mashes up the databases of Skoll, Ashoka and Civic Ventures and the like. Again, Nat has the best overview. I think it's a really interesting idea, although I worry that this (again) will channel more resources (of all types) to those who need it less. Wonder what a mashed-up UnLtd/SSE/Ashoka/CAN database API might look like over here (and what it would actually be used for….)?

Till next time……

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Passion is important for social entrepreneurs, but what sort of passion?

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One of the things people talk about social entrepreneurs needing is passion. Although it's never entirely clear what is meant by that: something to do with being able to see it through the hard times (can't give it up because you feel so strongly about it), something to do with how you communicate what you do (and why it's needed), something about it coming from personal experience (sometimes), something about loving it….etc.etc

Stanford Social Innovation Review points to a forthcoming research article about understanding 'passion' a bit more in the entrepreneurial context. It differentiates between 'affective' passion (surface passion: facial expressions, gestures, tone of voice), 'cognitive passion' (revealed in your preparation, thoughtfulness, logic etc) and 'behavioral passion' (how have you demonstrated your commitment: investing own money, time; taken personal risk / responsibility etc). Their take on it is that 'affective passion' is not particularly successful at attracting funding and investment or gaining support. Rather it is the 'cognitive' and 'behavioral' passions which are more likely to do so.

Now the cynics may say that this is just a jazzy way of saying: you should really do your preparation and analysis and/or (in the case of the behavioral stuff) we want to see your commitment demonstrated. But I think there's something interesting here for social entrepreneurs, in that passion is not just about rousing, inspiring speeches…or moving people with the intensity of their story. It's also about turning up on time to meetings, preparing thoroughly, consistent commitment, being rigorous in approach to measurement and analysis, and so on. Indeed, for many, these are things they find difficult, so will only do if they are really passionate (in all the above meanings) about the organisation they are establishing and leading.

Benjamin Franklin said that "If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins"; what this research might say in addition, is that passion can be shown through rational thought and actions, not just emotional ones.

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What the expenses scandal means for social entrepreneurs

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It was interesting to read today that the CEO of Barnardo's is going to publish his (and his senior management team's) expenses, on the back of the MP's expenses scandal. [NB – if you're an international / non-UK reader and this hasn't made your news, check out Wikipedia's current take (or any UK newspaper's website, frankly)] It's interesting, because it's the first I've read of the scandal having a direct impact in this sector. But there are real implications (and lessons), positive and negative, for social entrepreneurs and the broader third sector.

Firstly, it is about legitimacy, which is at the core of the social entrepreneur's journey, particularly in the earlier stages. They are not appointed to a job, nor elected to one, so have to earn (and learn) their legitimacy through their actions, through involving their community (+ stakeholders), and through learning and recognition from others. Like MPs, they are trusted to spend money and make decisions on how that money is spent, so transparency and value for money are also absolutely key. This row has only served to underline how important transparency and value for money are in the modern age (and especially the current climate); and it's shown how swiflty legitimacy can be lost through inappropriate actions.

What has also become clear from the MPs expenses row is that a set of rules are not enough to hardwire an ethical approach into being.The MPs soon realised that operating "within the rules" was not enough, and that it was also about operating in the "spirit" of those rules that was important. And, no matter how improved they are made, and how less flawed, and how much more scrutiny there is, a true change will also require a true change in the spirit of how the MPs approach their expenses. In the public and third sector alike, rules and regulations are important, as are transparency and measurement (value), but so is the spirit and motivation that drives the way in which things are done. What it boils down to, again, is that rules and regulations and legal boundaries only take you so far: it is the people, and their motivations and skills, which make it a success or a failure. This is as true in the social enterprise and charity world as in the world of politics.

Finally, it's interesting to note that, despite what Barnardo's has to do, scrutiny and accountability-wise, for its funders and regulators (eg. Charity Commission) and trustees, its CEO still identifies the need to do more. And I think what that signifies, after the collapse of trust in one set of institutions (our financial ones) and now the collapse of trust in another (the political world), is that the bar is effectively raised for all organisations in terms of transparency and honesty. But this is especially the case for organisations in the third sector, including those started and run by social entrepreneurs…where trust and legitimacy is so crucial to their work being effective and impactful.

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Brief reflection on Shine 09

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Just wanted to capture some quick reflections on the two days of Shine 09. Am sure there will be more over the next few days, + more photos and videos to be uploaded.
Overall, as one of the co-founders and organisers (SSE), I'm pretty delighted with how it went. Massive congrats and thanks to Sam, Lizzie and all at Germination for all their hard work in making the event a reality, and one that ran pretty smoothly. And all on a shoestring budget.

The four partners started the event because they felt there was a need for an accessible, affordable, practical, well-networked, dynamic event that was less about long powerpoints and plenary speeches, and more about one-to-one support and moving your business on. I really think Shine 09 delivered on that concept, and, overall, it felt like more 'business' was being done at the event than last year. Or, as Cliff Prior (UnLtd CEO) summarised to me, Shine 08 was about inspiration, Shine 09 was about perspiration…or about implementation. I saw a couple of SSE Fellows walking out at the end of Friday and they were listing the work they'd got, the contacts made, and the practical advice they'd received…which was very much music to my ears.

Highlights for me on the Friday were the 1:1 areas, where organisations like Lovells, Futurebuilders, UnLtd, Ashoka and ourselves got little respite from social entrepreneurs thirsty for advice and information. Some of the workshop sessions were a little more mixed, going on anecdotal feedback, but I heard positive things about the Mind MOT session and Jackie Westlake's DCLG session(s) in particular.

On Saturday, the vibe was relaxed and enjoyable, and What If gave a load of bespoke consultancy to those who were there (and booked in). The Social Collaboration game was great, and its hypothetical MP expenses endowment fund almost became a Twitter hoax, before being stopped in its tracks. Finally, the pitching session was great, with four excellent projects, and the judging panel giving supportive and constructive feedback (though I say so myself). Martin Sherrard won the popular vote, and an UnLtd Level 1 Award, for his walled kitchen garden project.

 As ever, we will learn from this year and the things that went well and that didn't. The balance between structured and unstructured felt good this year, and the Kings Place and the Hub Kings Cross were stellar venues. The only challenge with Kings Place was the split levels (which meant it felt slightly less of "one event" together) and lack of natural light in the downstairs rooms, but it's a great and well-resourced place to have an event. The Hub has a great vibe and, as at Kings Place, the staff and team there could not have been more helpful and accommodating.

Final big thanks to all who made it possible: Germination as I mentioned above, the funders and sponsors (Lovells, Futurebuilders, CCLA, DCLG, OTS et al), the media partners, the founding partners (especially Ben@Ashoka, Jonathan@theHub, Cliff and Nic@UnLtd), all the volunteer UnConsultants and helpers, David Wilcox for this site, and to all the social reporters and twitterers who helped make the event one that others could be involved in even from miles away.

Till next year then… ;0) and check out the Shine Social Reporter site for all the posts, videos, tweets from this weekend.

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Downing Street, Future Jobs and the realities of delivery

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SSE did something unusual this morning: attended a 7.30am breakfast meeting. Not renowned as early risers, Alastair and myself nevertheless made the exception to go to 10 Downing Street. The Prime Minister, along with James Purnell, Hazel Blears, Liam Byrne and John Healey, was launching the Future Jobs Fund and, specifically, discussing how the third sector / social enterprise could contribute to it.

The Fund is, as people keep saying about the recession more generally, both an opportunity and a challenge for the sector. On the one hand, what an opportunity: if 10% of the £1bn fund can be pushed through social enterprises and charities on the ground, that could be potentially transformatory. On the other, it also requires, say, delivery of 10% of the outcomes (150,000 jobs, of which 100,000 for 18-24 year old, and of which 50,000 in the most disadvantaged areas) against fairly short-ish timelines. In the words of the mighty Adam Ant, very much time to stand and deliver.

Much of the talk round the table this morning was also about how it can be ensured that this opportunity is accessible to smaller players and, from an SSE point of view, to allow for the innovation  / risk / time that start-up job creation brings (aka new social entrepreneurs from these kinds of backgrounds / areas / age groups). We'll certainly be following up on this with other organisational partners.

Great to see the breakfast prepared and served by Hoxton Apprentice trainees (congrats to them, and especially Leon who's a fantastic advocate for their work). Also good to see so many social enterprise ambassadors (Peter Holbrook, Dai Powell, Karen Lowthrop, Claudine Reid, Penny Newman, John Bird and SSE Fellow Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa) round the table: it was a good mix, I think, of such credible, experienced practitioners with second tier orgs such as ourselves, Social Firms, Social Enterprise Coalition, DTA etc

What is particularly encouraging is to see government departments working together in this way: DCLG, DWP and Cabinet Office, acknowledging that social enterprise and entrepreneurship is delivering outcomes across their departments, and seeking to make a breakthrough push of acceptance, awareness and resourcing.

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