New research provides some key insights into how civil society organisations might scale up and replicate their impact. The report, Realising the Potential of Social Replication, is based on evidence from 150 charities, social enterprises, for-profit companies and cooperatives, and shows that where organisations have attempted social replication, many have done so successfully. Two-thirds of respondents reported a range of benefits to their organisations, including greater economies of scale, greater diversity of income, better efficiency, and even increased innovation.
The report, written by The International Centre for Social Franchising (ICSF) on behalf of the Big Lottery Fund, fills a gap in the sector’s knowledge by providing quantitative data on social replication and franchising, which has previously been lacking.
The lack of information available to ensure successful replication was cited by respondents as a primary reason why organisations aren’t pursuing this route. Despite the clear benefits to replication, many organisations still lack the knowledge required in order to scale their impact in this way. Fifty-five percent of respondents who had not yet replicated their work felt they did not know enough to consider social franchising in the future, and even amongst those who had already replicated, 35 percent felt they still lacked sufficient knowledge.
Organisations participating in the research warned that replication needs the right conditions to work. The majority felt that grant funding is an essential prerequisite for replication, with the report finding that most types of organisation – from charities to social enterprises – were more likely to use grants to cover the costs of replication. Seventy percent of those who had already replicated their work spoke of using grants to build organisational capacity and/or to finance the ongoing costs of franchising, such as staff salaries. As such the research suggests that there is currently not a sufficient pipeline of replication-ready organisations to feed the expanding UK social investment market, recommending that a ‘replication readiness’ fund could be required in future.
As a result of this research, ICSF have developed five steps they believe could help the chances of organisations successfully replicating their work.
Dan Berelowitz, Chief Executive for the ICSF, said, “This research has been critical, not only in confirming ideas we have been pursuing to help others replicate, but also for creating new strategies to ensure every proven organisation that has the potential and desire for replication is able to.”
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