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August 6, 2013

Why Business Reporting Solutions Can Help Social Enterprises

Social enterprises are one of the most important business sectors in the world. They’re businesses run by the community for the community, tackling social problems, investing in the local community, improving the local area and investing in the environment. Social enterprises can span a huge range of sectors, from retail to food to health-care to publishing. This business method involves selling products or services and then reinvesting the profits back into the business or into the community it is serving. Because such businesses have such a wide range of responsibilities, from raising and investing funds to effectively communicating with sponsors and contacts, it’s important to have one system in place to keep tabs on budget, spending, allocation of funds, procurement of funds, communications, marketing campaigns and more. This is where a business reporting solution could come in.

Like any business, it must make money to survive and become sustainable. Take the Co-Operative or The Big Issue for example; these are social enterprises that reinvest their profits back into worthy causes and the community, represented by Social Enterprise UK. As social enterprises are all about making change, and having the desire to make a difference, each enterprise should be able to focus on this without getting bogged down in unnecessary data handling.

So how can a business reporting solution benefit a social enterprise? A business reporting solution will present the most important financial data and can be updated frequently to give the most accurate set of financial data whenever needed. Financial management systems will not only track and display up-to-date spending and balances, but they can also accurately track and analyze budget and assets, provide easy-to-use budgeting processes, cost centres to allocate costs and budgets to different departments and provide scheduling for payments in or out of the enterprise. Financial management is just one piece of the puzzle — social enterprise is about much more than money; it’s about social value and impact.

The enterprise can then choose to reinvest funds back into the business or back into the community it is serving. This reinvestment of funds not only requires accurate financial planning, but a comprehensive contact relationship management system. Staff need to be able to send individual or mass e-mail campaigns to partners, volunteers, customers and staff, create, target and tweak marketing campaigns, customize and create templates and data-entry forms, track and trace quotes and much, much more. Relationships with contacts, volunteers and customers are vital for sustaining and growing any social enterprise, and an integrated contact management solution could be just the thing for boosting your enterprises’ growth.

Social enterprises have the ability to change the world, a little bit at a time — so it’s only fitting that they have a suitable business management solution to accommodate their needs. With a sustainable solution, there’s also no need to worry about outgrowing a business management system as the social enterprise grows. Infinitely scalable, business management solutions can grow as the enterprise grows, allowing for expansion and development without worrying about whether the firm’s accounting software can keep up.

Social enterprises in health-care, for example, have stepped out of the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) to deliver health-care locally. Whilst they are challenged with maintaining clinical standards and targets, they must remain within budget — something that many enterprises are challenged with when using disparate systems that require rekeying of data and duplication of work. A business reporting solution provides real-time access to budget allocations and actual spending, helping to keep them on track.

This article was written by Laura Martin, a technology and social media enthusiast with a passion for writing and sharing her tips. Laura writes on behalf of Advantage Business Systems, specialists in providing social enterprises with business solutions.