While many people in the community express interest and enthusiasm for setting up and running their own social enterprise, project or organisation, the knowledge, experience or capacity to do so is invariably lacking. With this in mind, Synergy provides advice and guidance to individuals or groups interested in starting up an enterprise or to organisations who are looking to further develop their services and programmes. This includes signposting and support on fundraising.
There is a wealth of ideas within the community about potential projects within the broad field of healthy, conscious and ethical living. More often than not, however, people are not aware of how to go about setting up and running such projects and do not know where to turn to for the necessary advice and support. Sometimes, members of the community are alienated from orthodox patterns of employment, associating many of the disciplines and methods of the corporate world with the values of mainstream consumer capitalism, to which they seek to offer an alternative. Synergy seeks to bridge this gap, applying some of the methods recognised as ‘best practice’ in the public, private and voluntary sector so as to enable members of the community to gain meaningful self-employment and advance the wider cause of the alternative and progressive community.
During its tenure in Camberwell, the Centre operated a ‘Social Enterprise Study Group’, which held twice weekly advice sessions in which people wishing to fundraise, network and generally develop their start-up social enterprises could work together, access advice from experienced project managers and fundraisers and spend a few hours writing project proposals or filling in funding application forms in an atmosphere of common endeavour. The sessions covered cover all aspects of setting up and running a start-up social enterprise, specialising in the creative and cultural sector, healthy, ethical and sustainable living, youth and kids work, personal and spiritual development.
Topics covered included:
- Mission statement – clarifying what it is you want to do and writing it down in the language that funders and clients will understand.
- Incorporation – setting up your not-for-profit company or association – drafting your memorandum and articles of association, filling in the forms, opening a bank account.
- Financial management – keeping accounts, submitting company returns, drafting budgets, managing costs, projecting income.
- Marketing & Promotion – understanding social need, researching social policy, drafting marketing materials, researching clients, pitching to clients.
- Networking, press and publications – researching and reaching out to potential partners / clients and spreading the word about the good work of the organisation.
- Fundraising – researching potential funders, understanding outputs and outcomes, writing proposals and filling forms.
- Monitoring and Evaluation – how to measure the outputs generated from your project so as to be able to demonstrate value for money.
- Signposting on to other training opportunities such as at the local Voluntary Action Council.