So Long, 2016

20.12.16

Gosh, hasn’t 2016 been very, well, um – unexpected?!

A year when conventional wisdom (defined as a body of ideas or explanations generally accepted as true by the public and/or by experts in a field) was tested to destruction. It has also felt like a year of spiralling need and tumbling resources.

2016 has left me regularly puzzled – not just in the realms of politics (Brexit, Trump); also consumer affairs (who at Toblerone ever thought that was a good idea?), sport (what has happened to Welsh rugby??) social justice (Gary Linekar joining the fight). I could go on and I am sure you could, too.

One of the saddest things for me this year has been watching (and sometimes helping with) the closure of really good not for profits that are no longer viable as individual organisations. Not only does this usually include the loss of jobs and livelihoods but it leaves groups of beneficiaries with reduced, or sometimes, no support. Pension liabilities, TUPE transfer requirements and other compliance issues often mean that there is no merger option for such organisations and, as a wise man once said, “the tying together of two sinking ships, just results in a sinking catamaran!” Knowing this doesn’t mean it feels good, though.

At Action Hampshire, we like to think we are resilient and forward looking so how do we make something positive out of 2016? I suppose that those organisations that do survive will be more resilient; increasingly organisations are recognising that they need to generate more of their own income leaving them less reliant on grants and government contracts. One of the reasons we like social enterprise so much is that the income generated through trading (selling goods, services or knowledge) is independent, unlike income from contracts – and many grants. (According to a Social Enterprise UK report, 73% of social enterprises earn more than 75% of their income from trade). Independent income has to be a good thing.

Some not for profit organisations think that they have nothing to trade but I have come across very few members of our sector that do not have skills, knowledge and services that could not be monetised. It may not be the entire answer but it could be part of a more diverse income stream, making you a more resilient and independent organisation. There is support out there to help you develop your trading, including Action Hampshire’s Introduction to Trading workshops and our School for Social Entrepreneurs programmes. We are affected by these issues too – 2017 will need to be a year when Action Hampshire generates more of its income through trading as we have lost the bulk of our historical core funding now.

On the positive side, we keep increasing our membership – and now have over 900 and our staff team remains focused and dedicated. We know there is a strong and vibrant not for profit sector in Hampshire, supporting those in need, and we are as committed as ever to supporting you to do what you do best, and to, between us, help Hampshire thrive.

In 2016 it has been all too easy to complain about what we cannot do any more – resources are declining and Government often doesn’t seem to be listening. Our 2017 resolutions are to focus on what we can improve and change and to measure progress by outcomes, not by growth.

Until then, we wish you all a happy and peaceful Christmas and holiday season. See you in 2017.