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Jun 22, 2016

Early Results on Social Impact in Central Ohio

This August 2 we will again celebrate progress in social enterprise in Central Ohio over the previous year.  Watch for the announcement of Positioned to Prosper and sign up quickly for this popular, free event.    Check back soon, or sign up for our emails so that you can stay up to date on this event and many other programs and resources related to social enterprise.

Since the launch of the online Directory of Social Enterprises at last year’s Positioned to Prosper event and release of our first annual report on The State of Social Enterprise in Central Ohio, the number of social enterprises in the Directory has grown by over 20 percent.  Working with the social enterprises we have identified in Central Ohio, the Center for Social Enterprise Development has begun to collect data on their economic and social impact.  The effort remains at an early stage and we have assembled impact data for one-third of the enterprises.

1,333 JOBS  The profiled social enterprises have created full-time or part-time jobs for 1,333 individuals, of which over three-fourths are disadvantaged or disabled.  These companies range from just one employee to over 450.  If this group were representative of all the social enterprises in Central Ohio, this emerging sector would be a significant job engine in our community.

$16,336,870 IN PAYROLL  Those enterprises who reported payroll show a significant contribution to the economy.  The smallest start-up generated $4,600 in payroll while the most established paid over $10 million in one year.  The state and local income taxes paid by those employees are another significant contribution to the community.

$29,938,332 IN EARNED REVENUE  The potential significance and viability of social enterprise is vividly reflected in the total sales of this small subset of our local enterprises.  Some are just launching and their revenues are still in the four-figure range.  But others with more than a decade of growth have sales of $12 million.

The social enterprises reflected in these numbers are a minority of the social enterprises operating in our community.  They range from the emerging to the well-established.  There is no doubt as more data become available, and more social enterprises are identified, the economic impact of this sector should earn them a seat at the table in economic development decision-making.

Social enterprises produce more than economic impact; they produce social impact.  This is an area with no standard measures and development of objective quantitative data on social impact is a common topic of conversation nationally.  Some report financial contributions to nonprofit mission; others report improvements in community health.

EDUCATION TO 7,500 INDIVIDUALS  The more easily quantifiable social impact measures report bringing education to over 7500 individuals in ways ranging from one-time events to college scholarships.

PROVIDING OVER 18,000 MEALS  Area social enterprises report feeding over 18,000 individuals either through the food bank system or through Meals on Wheels.

All of these economic and social impacts reported by just 32 of the 85 social enterprises we have identified are just a suggestion of the potential of this growing social entrepreneurial spirit to transform our community and achieve significant inroads in some of the most pressing challenges of our community.

The more effective and efficient social enterprises are at achieving social outcomes the quicker and more likely Central Ohio will reach its ideal vision of an economically thriving, vibrant community where everyone can succeed.  This past year the Center teamed up with OSU Fisher College to run a pilot to use Six Sigma continuous improvement techniques to increase the social impact of a local social enterprise.  Based on the success of this pilot, Fisher plans to include up to four local social enterprises in its Six Sigma projects in the Fall of 2016.

So far we have just scratched the surface in assembling information regarding the true impact of this sector and how these enterprises are meeting the needs of the community.  This shortage of reliable measures and systems to gather and report impact data limits the ability of grantors and investors to make data-driven investments in the programs that are creating true social change.

To challenge this situation, the Center has teamed with Community Research Partners and Measurement Resources Company to assemble a coalition of funders and civic and business leaders to explore development of a system that is efficient and replicable that will:
1.    identify and collect the right information,
2.    be easily and economically updated regularly,
3.    store data in a way that allows users to sort and filter as desired,
4.    easily export the data to a wide range of platforms,
5.    facilitate analysis and evaluation by a wide range of constituents

We hope that next year I will be able to report a long list of partners supporting this valuable effort.

Allen Proctor, President & CEO

Center for Social Enterprise Development