Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right: Have I Got Social Enterprise News For You


There is a vacuum of leadership across the country. Turn on the news and you’ll hear of power struggles, leadership contests and plots to overthrow the incumbent. Westminster has become Lord of The Flies, Othello and The Thick of It rolled into one.

With so many leadership campaigns now under way, I thought that this week we could take a look at how you can maximise your own chances of assuming a position of power. At the rate we’re going there won’t be anyone in the country who isn’t standing for a parliamentary position soon.

Enjoy your weekend


First, you need some money to run your campaign. Probably quite a lot of it, because one pound is now worth about the same as a used teabag. If you are in London (specifically Barking and Dagenham, Hackney, Haringey, Lewisham, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Westminster, Camden, Brent) The Deutsche Bank Small Grants Fund offers grants of up to £5,000 – apply by 15th July.

In Liverpool, micro-grant event Liverpool Soup takes place on July 28th – an opportunity for potential new entrepreneurs to pitch their idea to the attendees and  walk away with enough money to start their business.

Nationally, applications for Big Give’s Christmas Challenge are open until July 4th – The Christmas Challenge is the UK’s largest online match funding campaign, offering supporters of participating charities the opportunity to double their donations.

Nuffield Foundation will also provide grants for research and innovation in a number of categories: Children and Families, Early Years Education and Childcare, Economic Advantage and Disadvantage, Education, Finances of Ageing, Law in Society, and Open Door.

A leader should really have some awareness of the main issues of the day (although this doesn’t always appear to be completely necessary) so I’d suggest reading NCVO’s Brexit: Implications for the Voluntary Sector report. (If you are reading this on a mobile, please note that this is a link to a pdf).

Lots of leaders boast about how little sleep they need, do not trust these people. They are dangerous and got us into this mess. You need somewhere to get your head down. Why not try The Good Hotel a new floating hotel opening in London as part of a social enterprise project?

Make sure that you have the right credentials for the job. Times have changed, and simply having a weekly column in the Daily Telegraph is no longer enough. You could try to win some awards: SEUK’s Social Enterprise Awards (which close on 8th July), for example, or if you are in the Midlands you could enter the social enterprise of the year award at the Birmingham awards.

One recent success goes to SSE Fellow Bethany Ainsley, who picked up the David Goldman Prize for Business Innovation at Newcastle University Business School.

Network and build a powerful set of connections – media moguls and shady business figures can be handy to have in your back pocket. If you would prefer to take a more ethical stance, Bridges for Children C.I.C are running a networking event at SSE London for SSE Fellows who work with children and young people, families and education/community settings. It takes place on Tuesday 12th July from 5pm to 6.15pm.

Leading can be lonely, so it’s important to remember that you aren’t alone. You may find solace in this article from Pioneers Post: What’s keeping social entrepreneurs awake at night?

Think about the impact that you want to make in the world. Understand it. Measure it. Book one of the two remaining places on SSE London’s Measuring Social Impact course, which takes place on August 2nd + 3rd.

Work hard to build trust. Don’t, for example, make of lots of promises on the side of buses and then renege on them because that just looks silly. Public trust is important; according to a new report from Populus trust in charities has fallen. You can help to rebuild it.

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