Although Social Value Ireland may be new, we have been working on the concept for many years before finally bringing it all together in 2020. To give you a flavour, here are just some of the things we have done.
Whitebarn Consulting was established in 2005. It is a freelance consultancy run by me, Sandra Velthuis. In 2014, I became the Republic of Ireland’s first Accredited Practitioner of Social Return On Investment (SROI). I wrote about the process in a blog series entitled Confessions of a first time SROI practitioner. I continue to publicise the importance of social value through blog posts, in articles, via free resources, on social media and elsewhere. I deliver regular social impact and social value studies for my clients and I also conduct research on this topic from time to time.
Quality Matters is a social enterprise set up in 2012. We work with statutory and not-for-profit organisations across Ireland to create high quality evidence-based services for marginalised communities and the individuals within them. Amongst a range of other services, we deliver SROI Practitioner training and undertake SROI evaluations. We also run the Impact Exchange, a multi-partner collaboration that aims to develop and showcase new ways of improving how we collect social services data and turn this into knowledge. In 2016, our CEO Caroline Gardner co-wrote an article with Sandra Velthuis and Karl Leatham about the importance of safeguarding social value.
The Wheel, Ireland’s national association of community and voluntary organisations, charities and social enterprises was founded in 1999. In 2011 we researched to what extent social purpose organisations in the Republic of Ireland were demonstrating their impact (Sandra Velthuis helped us). In 2016, we partnered with Clann Credo and the Community Foundation for Ireland to produce the Let’s Commission for Communities report. Since then, we have actively promoted the concept of ‘societal value’ and sought recognition of the important role the not-for-profit sector can play in achieving this. Annually, we celebrate the social change brought about by our member organisations through the Charity Impact Awards. We also deliver ongoing training on outcome measurement and SROI (with Quality Matters).