WHAT IS SOCIAL VALUE?

Each day, value is generated and destroyed by our actions and inactions.  We instinctively know certain things in life are more important than money, yet we struggle to articulate what this value is. 

 

Social value is about quantifying not only the things that have a market value, but also those that are more difficult to place a value on, such as increased confidence, improved health or the benefits of living near to a park.

 

THE PRINCIPLES OF SOCIAL VALUE

1. INVOLVE STAKEHOLDERS

2. UNDERSTAND WHAT CHANGES

3. VALUE THE THINGS THAT MATTER

4. ONLY INCLUDE WHAT IS MATERIAL

5. DO NOT OVER-CLAIM

6. BE TRANSPARENT

7. VERIFY THE RESULT

 

WHO SHOULD BE THINKING ABOUT SOCIAL VALUE?

Social value is everyone’s concern.  It is often associated with charities, social enterprises, community groups and so on, and certainly, a social value approach can be very useful for such organisations.  However, commissioners, funders, investors, businesses and academics should also be thinking about how they can release as much social value as possible.

 

There are various approaches to measuring social value, including:

 

1. SOCIAL IMPACT ANALYSIS

2. SOCIAL RETURN ON INVESTMENT ANALYSIS

3. SOCIAL
COST BENEFIT ANALYSIS

4. ​SOCIAL
ACCOUNTING
​AND AUDIT

 

MEASUREMENT IS ONLY ONE ASPECT...

Do not fall into a trap of only measuring social value in order to ‘prove’ your worth to others.  Social value analysis is at its most powerful when you use it to make better decisions, such as when you are planning a new intervention or when you wish to improve something you are already doing.  In order to release as much social value as possible, you need to embed social value thinking into your work. 

​Once you understand some of the key concepts, using a social value approach in your day-to-work is not arduous.  However, if you are going to use the results of your social value measurement to make decisions that will have major ramifications and/or if you decide to publish your social value calculations, you will need a higher level of rigour and external verification.

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