What is a Social Enterprise?
The Bluetits Chill Swimmers is a Social Enterprise. Why did we choose Social Enterprise and why isn't it a charity?
This is something we get asked about a lot so we decided to put together a little bit of information about what a Social Enterprise is and how it's different from a charity.
The thing is that Social Enterprises and Charities are both set up because someone had a good idea to do something that made a positive difference in the world. That's usually called its purpose, or sometimes, its objectives.
The Bluetits Chill Swimmers Community
The Bluetits actually wasn't planned it was a bit of an accident really. Sian Richardson, our founder, started cold water swimming back in 2014 and people started wanting to join in. Click here to find out more about how it all came about.
As the organisation grew it started to cost money to keep it running, it started small, the odd free badge being handed out, but then it needed a website, someone to look after the website and someone to help answer the hundreds of emails coming in.
Sian is a fabulous creative person and started designing and selling some Bluetit goodies to make ends meet, and then that grew and it needed someone to pack the parcels and a storage space to keep the products.
One thing that Sian was (and still is) really adamant about was that The Bluetits would always be free for people to join in and become part of the community. So it is still a community, a community that is now funded by people buying Bluetit Merch, going on Bluetit holidays, donating and entering challenges. Our goal has always been to make the Bluetits something that is funded by Bluetits for Bluetits.
We know that some people can't afford to give anything and thats okay we made it free for you. For those of you that do support us financially we, as a whole community, are thankful.
There are no investors and no shareholders at The Bluetits so all the surplus money we make goes straight back into the community to fund things like safety awareness, supporting volunteers, training and those little free badges that give so many smiles.
So about that money
How does that work?
Here's the thing.
There's actually not that much difference between how a Social Enterprise and how a Charity works when it comes to money.
A Social Enterprise focuses on making money through business activities. Selling products and services to make profits (or surpluses). The idea is that by creating products and services that people actually want to buy they can keep generating an income. Social Enterprises can however also receive donations and grants.
Charities on the other hand focus on raising money through donations and grants, they present their purpose and rely on people wanting to donate to help. Some charities do also have businesses like Oxfam shops where they sell products and services.
So they way the money comes in is different but after that its really the same.
Both types of organisations have to pay their staff wages, pay the electric bills, website and internet costs, accountancy fees, rent, insurance and all sorts of other running costs.
After they have paid all these costs they use the money thats left to do the good things they set out to do.
Social Enterprise UK
The Bluetits Chill Swimmers are proud to be members of Social Enterprise UK, the UK’s membership body for social enterprises.
Their vision is of a more equal society – they believe that social enterprise is our best chance of creating a fairer world and protecting the planet. Their mission is to achieve that through creating a favourable environment in which social enterprises can thrive.