Therein lies the reason I’m so committed to social enterprise. I can’t help but feel in this age of squeezed local authority belts, that old-fashioned funding is just plain wrong. A couple of years ago, when we were in our infancy (and not choosy), we received £11k through a European funding route. Don’t get me wrong, we did some good work. But there were two things that felt totally misguided in the way we were funded. The first are the strictures put round the funding bid.
Between the submission of a funding bid and starting the project, the world has moved on in a small organisation. You might have said you’ll spend £5k on staffing, but in fact it’ll need to be more like £6.5k (or even £4k!) due to unforeseen development. It’s ok thought isn’t it, because you can move 1.5k over from another part of the funding bid? Except, you often can’t So you’re forced to fudge it. This incentivises ‘creative accounting’ and often a project that is not as cost-effective as tax-payers deserve. And they’re all doing it!
There was a second seemingly farcical aspect too. We were told we had to spend at least £1k on capital assets. We didn’t need any, but to get the £11k we had to. How is that meeting local operational and strategic needs? We got a lovely printer and projector and some other goodies that have turned out to be useful. However, I remember a time working for a large national charity, where I came across our loft space one day and found literally 1000s of hoodies and water bottles – a consequence of the same contrived wasteful spending that the voluntary sector is often forced to undertake.
So, that’s why we want to be a sustainable social enterprise. That way things cost what they cost and we invest when our mission requires us to invest with our modest profit. What do you think? Do things need to change?