Resource description, files and detail

What does Social Enterprise Scotland do?

Posted: 28 May 2013

Doc Type(s): About Social Enterprise Scotland


This leaflet is designed for members, potential members and supporters, to explain in detail and clarify exactly what we do as an organisation.

It’s intended to demonstrate our role across Scotland and the value for money that we believe we provide as Scotland’s social enterprise membership organisation. Download the leaflet above or read the text below.


What does Social Enterprise Scotland do?

Social Enterprise Scotland exists to promote and build Scotland’s social enterprise movement – we’re all about the big national picture, as well as local support and development.

We are the collective and campaigning Voice of Social Enterprise, promoting a positive vision and offering practical support to all of Scotland’s diverse social enterprises. We’re the gateway to the social enterprise community in Scotland.

We are Scotland’s social enterprise membership organisation, leading and bringing together a large number of social enterprises from every corner of the country. We help our members make the right connections. We’re fully member-led and we practice mutual support and partnership with our members. We can only do our work with the support of our membership.

We are Scotland’s social enterprise policy organisation, regularly engaging with political leaders and civil servants – and producing policy as a direct result of grassroots communication with social enterprises.

We raise the profile of social enterprise across Scotland to a broad range of stakeholders, including the public, media, private sector, MSPs, local authorities and officials, bringing social enterprise away from the sidelines and into the mainstream.

We develop www.socialenterprise.scot, the one-stop online resource, bringing together relevant information and all the many strands of the social enterprise community in one place. This includes The Directory of Scottish Social Enterprise – currently Scotland’s only up-to-date directory.


For our Members

We exist primarily for our members. We offer a full and comprehensive membership package. This includes discounts on goods and services, free practical advice, support and signposting, regular networking and trading opportunities, free publicity and marketing, advice on public policy engagement and a voice in policy-making, local free events across Scotland and big discounts to our annual world’s biggest social enterprise event.

We produce a comprehensive weekly social enterprise e-bulletin, that uniquely includes all social enterprise news and events, policy news for social enterprises, member news and topical media stories.

We organise the national Scottish social enterprise awards/The Scottish Parliament evening reception, rewarding social enterprises and supporters and showcasing social enterprise to a wide audience, gaining public, political and media coverage.

We regularly ask our members for their views, expertise and experiences on many diverse policy issues – which then directly feeds in to our policy work and government consultation responses.

We specialise in influencing – and represent our members individually to their MSPs, Ministers, officials or local authority – to ensure action is taken on specific cases and issues.

We answer many member enquiries and signpost them to the right organisation, individual or information source. We make introductions to key influencers and contacts and make sure members have frequent opportunities to meet and network with relevant audiences. We help members make the right connections.

We help social enterprise members market their products and services and access new markets, through our e-bulletins, website, at our events and through word-of-mouth recommendations.

We have a fast growing category of start-up social enterprise members, bringing new social enterprises into the community, with full member benefits, at the very early stages of development. The membership fee is at a vastly reduced rate.

The core of our membership is social enterprises but we also have a valued associate membership category of local authorities, private companies, industry bodies and other influencers and decision-makers. We help them promote their work in supporting social enterprise.

We bring our social enterprise members together under one umbrella – to campaign on a united front, build the social enterprise movement and raise our collective profile.


For the Public

We’re Scotland’s public-facing social enterprise resource – The first point of contact for the general public. We are the gateway organisation to social enterprise in Scotland.

We deal daily with public enquiries and offer information, contacts, practical advice, policy information and other signposting. This generally includes business support enquiries (including start-up), undergraduate and PHD student research enquiries, definitions of social enterprise, SES membership, information on where to buy social enterprise goods and services and signposting to local social enterprises.

We develop plain language resources such as leaflets and also the website: www.socialenterprise.scot for public use.

We produce a new, free monthly public bulletin, an edited version of the member bulletin, designed to promote and market Scottish social enterprises – and raise our collective profile.


Policy & Parliamentary campaigning and research

All our policy is formulated directly from social enterprise member views, experiences and expertise. We believe that our members are the experts.

We founded and organise Scotland’s national policy forum for social enterprise – The Cross-Party Group on Social Enterprise, held in The Scottish Parliament.

We regularly meet with and influence political leaders, MSPs, Ministers, Scottish MPs, civil servants and local officials. We produce concise and relevant monthly bulletins for all of these groups.

We conduct various research projects, that have included community food, local government and the mapping of the social enterprise sector in Scotland.

We produce policy manifestos around all elections, both national and local, after full consultation with social enterprises on the ground, then meet with political parties to get our policies included.

We organise the annual Scottish Parliament reception (and awards), for direct engagement between social enterprises, MSPs and government officials.

We respond to all relevant Scottish Government, parliamentary, think tank and other consultations.

We have recruited local authorities to our Associate membership, with more in the pipeline. This means better local engagement and local social enterprise development.

We have a free monthly public sector and local authority bulletin – currently going to all 32 council CEOs, 32 council Leaders, all 1223 local elected members, economic development officers, housing officers, those working in TSIs and CPPs and a range of NHS and other public sector leaders.

We are members of and attend: The Scottish Government Third Sector Research Forum, the National Economic Forum, Third Sector Community Planning Reference Group, The Third Sector Employability Forum, The Business Gateway External Stakeholders group and the Scottish Leaders Forum.

We are members of and attend The Scottish Parliament & Business Exchange (SPBE) and also attend various OSCR and Big Lottery roundtable discussions. We are involved with the Resilient Scotland awards panel.


Our Events

We organise the world’s biggest social enterprise event – The Social Enterprise Exchange – and previously S2S. This is the only national trade fair, networking, learning and policy event for social enterprises in Scotland.

We organise the new, annual Local Government & Social Enterprise conference, bringing together local elected members, council officers and social entrepreneurs from across Scotland, to develop and grow our social enterprise community.

We hold a wide range of policy events across Scotland each year, bringing together social entrepreneurs with local elected members, council officers and other local leaders (in 2012 we were in Helmsdale in Sutherland, Stirling, Dumfries & Galloway, Moray, Fife and Argyll & Bute). This is co-ordinated with local networks and events to avoid duplication.

We are regularly involved in partnership with other local and national events, including the annual Social Investment conference, organised by one of our members.


Media & Communications

We pro-actively engage with the media, both national and local, regularly issuing media releases and call notices, giving media comment and writing features. We currently have over 200 media contacts across Scotland, the UK and beyond.

We send out a variety of widely read e-bulletins on a weekly and monthly basis.

We run the online Social Enterprise Scotland TV, that allows grassroots social enterprises to reach a large audience with their own short movies.

We fully utilise social media and our website to raise the profile of social enterprises and help them market their goods and services – Facebook (over 600 Friends), Twitter (over 3000 Followers) and Linkedin (over 1000 Connections) – with website unique visits increasing and up by 93% compared to two years ago.

We produce the regular anonymous Morethanprofitman Blog, commenting on topical, important and controversial issues and distribute this widely.

We facilitate a regular online social enterprise column in The Guardian newspaper, giving social entrepreneurs a direct opportunity to be heard.

We lead the Social Enterprise Communications Group (SECG), bringing together communication officers from Scotland’s social enterprises, to raise our collective profile and produce common media and marketing messages.


Partnership working and influencing across sectors

We work closely and pro-actively with our many social enterprise, third, public and private sector partners. Many of these have made an active decision to be paid-up members of Social Enterprise Scotland and we are seeing our reach and influence increase year on year.

These include: the Social Enterprise Academy, Social Investment Scotland, Social Firms Scotland, Senscot, SCDI, Scottish Enterprise, HIE, local authorities throughout Scotland, Charity Bank, Triodos Bank, The Co-operative Bank, Unity Trust Bank, Glasgow Caledonian University, a variety of thinks tanks, MacRoberts LLP, Brodies LLP and Jobs & Business Glasgow, among many others.

We also work with people and organisations across the UK, Ireland and the rest of the world. We organise the world’s biggest social enterprise event, welcoming international delegates. Each year we also host a number of international delegations from countries as diverse as China, Korea, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden.


Social Enterprise Scotland the organisation 

Social Enterprise Scotland is an organisation, not just leading social enterprises, but also uniting and representing our sector organisations under one umbrella. We do all this with just 5 members of staff, plus our 14 Board members and an active, diverse and experienced membership. We believe that we offer good value for money and provide an essential public service for social enterprises in Scotland.


Social Enterprise Scotland 2013