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Monday, 2 February 2009

On 17:42 by RT in
Every January people typically start to wonder what's coming up in the year ahead for their industries. The social enterprise and the non-profit sectors are no different. It's just that fewer people publish anything of value, mostly because these sectors are not awash with analysts in the way the private sector is. Anyway in case you're curious, here's my thoughts on where things might be headed for social enterprise.

Let's start with immediate trends to expect in 2009. Most of these are inevitably going to be defined by the impact of the credit crunch and the increasing ubiquity and impact of the social web.

5 Trends in Social Enterprise for 2009

  1. Rise in social startups and skills available to the sector.

    Increasing numbers of highly skilled private sector employees are being made redundant, and many of these are looking for ways to keep their skills sharp and occupy themselves positively and productively. Some will join the existing wave of social and third sector enterprises, and others will take the entrepreneurial route. I'm seeing this trend already with one of the charities I'm involved with.

  2. Higher expectations from funders

    As the markets suffer and investments fail or continue to provide lower returns, many of the large trusts and social funders will rapidly find their liquid funds diminishing. While I doubt this will stop them continuing their missions, I would in turn expect them to become significantly more focused on quality and viability of financial and social return.

  3. More support for big ideas

    As social enterprises continue to leverage the web and mobile to effect social change, social funders like UnLtd will have to start catering for big ideas rather than simply grass roots start ups. Google has already upped the ante with its Project 10^100.

  4. More partnerships and collectives

    These should emerge as more forward thinking Social Entrepreneurs look for ways to partner together to stay afloat in the face of financial pressures. I'd expect to start seeing more collectives like the Hub bringing small startups together, and more web services dedicated to letting groups collaborate.

  5. Blurring of lines between Charities and Social Enterprises

    We already know social enterprise is blurring lines between the profit and not-for-profit sectors, but the rise in success of social enterprise in both social and financial terms is also increasing the pressure on more and more charities to become financially sustainable through commercial revenue streams. Conversely I'd expect to see a number of social enterprises abandon their financial goals under pressure of the credit crunch, and look to use their social impact to gain charitable status in order to survive.

(Note: I've explored some more trends in Social Enterprise in my post Future Trends in Social Enterprise, which covers developments to expect beyond 2009.)