Impact and Learning Officer
Community business in England and Wales: new findings from Third Sector Trends reveals that community businesses are more confident, diverse and optimistic than other third sector organisations.
The report is based on the findings from the latest instalment in the Third Sector Trends study – the largest survey of voluntary, community and social enterprise sector in England and Wales, that has been running since 2010. It is the third in a series of triennial reports from Third Sector Trends on community business for Power to Change.
The report has been designed to complement findings from our annual Community Business Market Report by providing evidence on the activities of community businesses in comparison with other third sector organisations.
This year, the report is based on over 6,000 responses from third sector organisations across England and Wales.
The key highlights from the report are that compared to other third sector organisations, community businesses:
- Are more confident about increasing their earnings, growing their business, and working collaboratively
- Are more likely to support minoritised ethnic communities
- Have stronger engagement with and commitment to local social and public policy development, especially in more economically deprived places
- Have more informal, complimentary, or collaborative relationships
- Have greater diversity of organisational leadership
- Are more optimistic about the future
- Are more likely to be investing in training, digital skills and development for staff and volunteers
- Achieve greater social impact by increasing employability, tackling poverty, improving access to basic services and empowering local communities
Professor Tony Chapman, author of the report said that one of the most positive aspects of the report findings is “the eagerness of community businesses to work with other organisations from within their own sector or with private firms and public bodies, in both structured partnerships and ‘complementary’ informal ways.”
He also reflected on community businesses strong investment in local policy and practice initiatives: “Most join in with stakeholder events or respond to stakeholder consultations and enter strategic debates which are orchestrated by local public and health sector agencies. And many community businesses do not just react to local initiatives, they also commit to initiating debate or action to tackle local issues.”
In May, the Community Foundation Tyne Wear and Northumberland launched the Third Sector Trends 2022 report at an event in London. Stephen Miller, our Director of Delivery & Impact sat on the panel. Reflecting on the discussion at the event and the report findings, Stephen shared that “it was interesting and reassuring to see that a lot of third sector activity is correlated to levels of deprivation. We know from our own work that majority community businesses are also operating in the most deprived neighbourhoods.”
Stephen added: “As entrepreneurial organisations, community businesses are also good at raising and managing their own income, generating wealth locally, and helping to retain it in their own economy. Community businesses are better positioned than many other third sector organisations in terms of their long-term resilience and sustainability”.