The Wheel is Ireland’s national association of community and voluntary organisations, charities and social enterprises. We are a registered charity in Ireland and are unique in our role as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for anything related to the charity and nonprofit sector. Inspired by our community of over 2,300 members, we represent, support and connect nonprofit organisations, from the smallest community groups to the largest charities and social enterprises.
Since 2009, The Wheel have worked to advance policies, which support social enterprise in Ireland. As we earn a significant portion of our own organisational funding through trading, The Wheel can also be understood as a social enterprise, as well as a charity. Consequently, we understand and support those charities and nonprofits, which like us in The Wheel, are adopting social enterprise methods to achieve their organisation’s impact. In our representative work in this area, we work as one of the founding partners of a coalition of 12 organisations and key stakeholders, called the Social Enterprise Taskforce (SETF). Formed in 2009 this coalition has provided an effective voice promoting the development of Social Enterprise in Ireland.
To deliver on our organisational aims, we focus on the following areas of work:
- Public Policy and Campaigning: we promote the interests of both our members and the wider sector by building public support and securing the optimal legislative, policy and regulatory environment for community and voluntary action. Our work in this area includes advocacy, campaigning, influencing, media engagement and research.
- Skills and Leadership Development: we provide a wide range of affordable unaccredited and accredited training to people working and volunteering in the sector. Our key offerings in this area are our training and development programme and the Leadership Academy.
- Networking Programme: we facilitate and support networks of interest, and we open doors for collaboration and networking across traditional boundaries. Our current networks focus on topics such as social enterprise, small organisations, insurance, charity finance managers, HSE-funded groups and more.
- Information Services Programme: we provide a vast range of practical information and advice tailored to the practical needs of people working and volunteering in charities, community and voluntary organisations and social enterprises. Key activities include our helpdesk, websites, newsletters and Fundingpoint database of funding opportunities.
- Delivering Special Programmes: we partner with public agencies and philanthropic bodies to deliver projects that promote our mission and strategic aims and support the work of the sector. We are currently delivering several EU programmes, and the We Act campaign with a number of sector partners.
The Wheel is very active in the social economy sector in Ireland and the EU:
- In 2022, our work on Social Enterprise saw the launch of the “Unlocking the Social Economy, Supporting Social Enterprise” report. The policy paper is a rallying call for all those who believe that we must move urgently towards an economy that works for people and the planet and that social enterprise is at the heart of this.
- In November 2022, we re-launched our Social Enterprise Member Network with a consultative meeting with members. Our hope is to cultivate this network further in 2023, to inform a ‘bottom-up’ approach to our work in the social enterprise space, which puts our members and their needs at its centre.
- The Wheel is the lead partner of the RevitaLESE programme, which focuses on the social economy in the EU.
- The Wheel is also a partner on the baSE project (Blueprint for Advanced Skills and Training in the Social Economy) – Over the next 4 years, The Wheel will be working with social economy partners across 10 countries on this European Commission backed project focused on the social economy skills agenda. Aiming at establishing an alliance for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills for the Social Economy, baSE will focus on the upskilling and reskilling of social economy workers.