Social Enterprise Advisory Panel

It’s been an eventful year. Did the new year’s resolutions that social enterprises made back in January 2021 bear fruit? Read on to find out…

Each month our Social Enterprise Advisory Panel (SEAP) survey explores the experiences of an illustrative panel of social enterprises and collects data in a regular and light-touch way.

So, what have the results shown us this year? We’ve seen that our social enterprise panel’s turnover has grown, along with expectations to recruit more staff[1]. An impressive 92% planned to take action to support the COVID-19 recovery, from supporting community mental health needs to creating jobs to addressing health and social care issues[2].

The fight for racial justice continues. 43% of social enterprises surveyed sought to learn and do more to be proactively anti-racist (for a further 10%, anti-racism is at the core of their social mission).

Social enterprises offered their staff more flexible working options before the crisis, and the online switch seems to be here to stay. 34% of social enterprises surveyed have or planned to implement ‘blended’ office/home working this year (41% were already fully flexible about homeworking pre-crisis)[3].

Green social enterprises are doing amazing stuff! 26% of social enterprises surveyed have an environmental mission and are experts in various aspects of sustainability. 37% are carbon neutral or expect to be within the next five years. There is room to do more however. More than three-quarters (81%) of respondents said they want to know more about how they can address environmental and climate issues – and 46% said they are yet to identify if and how they’ll become carbon neutral.[4][5]

Back in January 2021, we asked our Social Enterprise Advisory Panel what new year’s resolutions they had for the year ahead – and they were ambitious! To scale, to grow their impact and their standards – and to survive in order to achieve this.

Proudest achievements graphic - SEAP

In November’s survey, we asked respondents what their proudest achievement of 2021 is. This year has been tough for a lot of social enterprises. Over a third (37%) of respondents said the fact that they’ve made it through the pandemic and are still going is what they are most proud of.

Staying in business!’ East Midlands social enterprise

‘We’re quite proud that we have managed to re-build from covid losses and things are back on par with previous takings and we have stabilized the business again, and our staff were looked after throughout the difficult period.’ West Midlands social enterprise

Another third (34%) spoke about delivering their social/environmental mission as being their most significant achievement.

Almost a fifth (17%) were pleased to have grown their business this year and 14% were proudest of new products, services and activities they’ve initiated in the last 12 months. And 8% are proudest of the awards or public recognition they’ve achieved this year.

Gaining funding from new sources, expanding what we deliver and the delivery ways (in-person and online)’ North West social enterprise

‘We made it to 10 years! :)’ West Midlands social enterprise

‘We’ve now evidenced over £23m in social value through the support we’ve provided over 11,000 people in the UK.’ London social enterprise

‘Winning two awards for our work across the local community.’ North East social enterprise

‘Growing our turnover coming out of the pandemic, enabling us to retain all staff and put in place plans for growth in 2022.’ Yorkshire social enterprise

And thanks to those who shouted out working with SEUK as being their proudest achievement! Organisations mentioned their nominations for SEUK Awards, as well as becoming SEUK members and taking part in SEUK partner programmes.

And how did New Year’s resolutions stack up compared to proudest achievements?! It’s been a tougher year than many envisaged in January, but social enterprises have come through!

New Year Resolution in January…Proudest Achievement by NovemberLocation
To grow through replication and offer more support and services to those with mental health difficulties. To create more edible gardens.Growing our team and our services and getting on a more sustainable footingWest Midlands
To grow the business as much as possible. Being able to engage with and deliver to our impact partners […] to bounce back after the lockdowns and make a positive contribution to our clients.East of England
To grow and be a force for good for years to come. Still being here and growing slowly but growing!North East
Hang in there!Able to continue to deliver services to high standard despite all challengesYorkshire and the Humber
Financial stability is key for this year! We have been volunteer led since incorporation and if we’re to continue past this year a handful of our staff need to be salaried. Going from a founder only team to two full time employees, one part time and a bank of freelancers. Very exciting growth and we have stability moving forwards!London
A successful grant application!Gaining unrestricted funding from [X]South East

Onwards and upwards in 2022!

What is the Social Enterprise Advisory Panel?

The Social Enterprise Advisory Panel (SEAP) is an SEUK initiative to collect regular and light-touch data from social enterprises to evidence need and impact. SEAP survey data is used by SEUK and others to influence policymakers, to promote social enterprise in the media and to general public, to drive more relevant investment and funding, and to inform useful product and service delivery (including by SEUK for our members).

Who are the SEAP respondents?

Respondents are UK-based social enterprises, most but not all of whom are SEUK members. Over 2021, the survey has had on average 206 respondents per month (low rates in April and August when we ran shorter surveys, highest response rate was in January – 342).

The survey is broadly representative of social enterprises in terms of location and size:

Turnover size of respondents

£0 – 100K65%
£100K – £500K23%
£500K – £5M6%
£15M – £50M3%
£5M – £15M2%

Location of respondents

East Midlands5%
East of England7%
North East5%
North West13%
Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales6%
South East11%
South West11%
West Midlands8%
Yorkshire & Humber9%