We were commissioned by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation to undertake research and identify five contrasting social innovations that had scaled up their work. The aim of the project was to produce a set of resources which could exemplify what had worked, what had not, and the different ways in which scaling up can impact an organisation or an emerging social enterprise sector.
We identified key tensions that social sector organisations need to navigate when making decisions about scaling up, and created a toolkit to help them make better decisions about scaling. The resulting guides consisted of:
- A set of short case studies outlining the challenges and successes faced by five social innovations: community-led recycling, development trusts, community-led HIV services, community food enterprises and community renewable energy generation.
- A set of thought guides outlining the tensions faced by social sector organisations when making decisions about scaling up
- A group decision making toolkit to help groups make better decisions about scaling
Shared Assets delivered an evidence based service that conducted in-depth research and produced accessible guides for wider use. The guides produced from Shared Assets’ research were able to create a framework that could be used by practitioners to negotiate some of the complexities associated with scaling their innovations. Funders, policymakers and support organisations could also make use of them to better understand the motivations and capabilities of the organisations whose growth they wish to support.
In the long-term, the project aimed to accommodate a greater understanding of the risks to the sustainability and scaling of social innovations and how these might be overcome for social enterprises.