The Social Franchising Event

Posted By on November 8, 2012 11:17 pm

Report by Katie Abbotts 

Yesterday the ICSF launched Dan Berelowitz’s research, Innovation and the Power of old ideas: McDonalds v Foodbank at a packed event.

Held with Social Enterprise UK it took place at RBS in central London to a full house. People came from all over the UK from social enterprises, charity and investment community to hear about successful social franchises, take part in workshops with the chance to think through the opportunity for their organisations.

Given his research findings Dan urged the sector to think seriously about social franchising as a means to scale up as he warned of the sector’s tendency to continually reinvent the wheel.

Taking global restaurant giant McDonald’s as an example, and based on in-depth discussions with senior personnel there, Dan revealed some surprising similarities with a successful social franchise in the UK and argued that much can and should be copied for use more broadly by the sector. The findings, he believes, will encourage organisations to consider replication as a viable approach both to scaling up sustainably and to increasing their social impact

We also heard from Graham Jones, Head of Franchising and Not For Profit at RBS who explained why a social franchise is an attractive proposition for banks because of it’s tried and tested business model.

Dr Guy Turnbull, Director of Business Development at CASA shared the joys and challenges of expanding CASA and his learnings ‘on the job’ as they franchised out. He wisely pointed out, bad franchises drag the whole company down, so it’s in everyone’s interests for the ‘marriage’ of a franchiser and franchisee to work out.

David Burton,Operations Director of Coram Life Education shared his experience of protecting their assets (and letting some go) particularly their well loved and iconic giraffe which is an integral part of their work with children.

We then took questions from the floor. One questioned the ethics of taking learning from McDonald’s (the answer lies in pragmatism) the appropriateness of replication across borders and cultures (this is no panacea, it is not always appropriate, but there are many examples of when it is) evidencing successful outcomes with franchisees (benchmarks and strong processes created once that last well were suggested) and protecting intellectual property.

Later that day a number of pieces of media coverage appeared, highlighting the key findings of the research on the Guardian, Third Sector and Civil Society.

To see a copy of the report, click on this link.

For more information about up and coming events please email