The Third Sector and Social Enterprise in 2007

I’ve been inspired by Rob Greenland’s spoof of what will happen to social enterprise in 2007, so have decided to have a go myself:

JANUARY: The New Year starts with a celebration as the first combined ‘Cooperative Community Interest Company Limited Liability Firm Trust Association by Guarantee with a trading arm’ is officially established. The social enterprise, thought to be the first to simultaneously hold more than eight legal structures at the same time, will focus on developing new acronyms for organisations in the third sector. Its first piece of work is its own name: COCOCOLILIFITAG or CocoLili, for short.

FEBRUARY: A flagship conference is held, attended by the great and good of the sector. Entitled "Definition not delivery: the importance of pontification", the event includes seminars on ‘Make meetings your entire life’, ‘Partnership as a route to entropy’, and ‘Keep it simple stupid: the art of doing nothing’. Five sub-committees are set up on the back of the event to research joint working, silo defining, and deciding what the committees’ names should be.

MARCH: Several luminaries of the sector are injured after a meeting room implodes after a consultation on how many consultations it takes to consult a consultant.

APRIL: The words ‘public service delivery’ are reported to have officially become a mantra for those who worship the god ‘Procurement’. Social enterprise employees and medium-sized charity workers are heard to be muttering the three-word incantation as they go about their business. Social psychologist Professor Timothy Snaffle said, "It’s extraordinary how those three words have become so central to these people’s lives in such a short time. We’ve also started to hear variations on the prayer involving the word ‘Compact’ and ‘commissioning documents’ ".

MAY: A branding consultation is held on what a fairtrade-type brand for social enterprise might look like.  Several days are spent sitting on strangely-shaped beanbags in a room with a blue-sky painted on…until it is decided that the logo should be a hand giving a thumbs-up. The Thumbs Up initiative is launched with a great fanfare, and several members of the public notice.

JUNE: Jamie Oliver is appointed as Shadow Minister for Social Entrepreneurs by David Cameron. A by-product of this is cookbook sales funding the party, ensuring the proportion of earned income allows the Conservative party to be called a social enterprise. Labour follows suit, reconstituting itself as a CIC.

JULY: During a heatwave, a social enterprise called ‘A Breath of Fresh Air’ cashes in with solar-powered mini-fans which go down a storm across the UK.

AUGUST: Confusion reigns as someone introduces a fourth bottom line. Financial, social and environmental are joined by ‘technological’. Social enterprises rapidly adjust their balanced scorecards to evaluate their technological return on investment (TROI), and the number of references to web 2.0 in business plans proliferates exponentially.

SEPTEMBER: Non-profit research experts ENC (Emperor’s New Clothes) release an evaluation which estimates the value of the sector’s values at £1.2bn. This contribution is said by commentators to be ‘undeniable’, ‘incalculable’, ‘immeasurable’ and ‘invaluable’ in subsequent commentary.

OCTOBER: At the Social Enterprise X-Factor finals, controversy reigns after it is revealed that one of the finalists is a registered charity. Louis Walsh is said to be "flabbergasted".

NOVEMBER: The NHS is now officially a social enterprise, after 50% of the PCTs changed into social firms. The government announces that the country should be proud of this amazing achievement, making the UK’s healthcare system the largest social enterprise this side of the Chinese army (which is a co-operative, of course) and the Indian railway (itself a development trust association).

DECEMBER: The Social Enterprise Awards To Outstanding First-class People And New Team Success awards are won by the NHS, with the Conservative party a close second. In his keynote speech, Muhammad Yunus says, "I have no idea what a keynote is, but I am delighted to be here and support these awards.  These fledgling institutions demonstrate the power that can be unleashed by social entrepreneurs in their communities. Now we must see if they can scale up".

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2 thoughts on “The Third Sector and Social Enterprise in 2007

  1. Very funny, particularly like the bit about procurement, sadly too close to the truth. Here’s hoping for a 2007 full of enthusiasm with the odd touch of cynicism to keep us on track.

  2. Thanks Rob…I noticed you started the year with “It’s not all about procurement” ( Mind-numbing is definitely the word at times. As we’ve said before on this blog, procurement often becomes more relevant as a social entrepreneur (and their enterprise) progresses, but it’s rare that something fresh, new and innovative is commissioned or procured straight off….