Does your positive impact outweigh your negative?

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Many organisations today are aiming to create change in the lives of people. Corporations wish to do good with their CSR strategies, institutional investors are applying new investments techniques to create an impact to society and high net worth individuals are giving away increasing amounts of their money to change the world. But how can you be sure you are really making a difference? The urge to find an answer to this question has never been greater.

How can we make sure we are making the right decisions, based on what really matters to the people we want to help? The answer lies in mapping, measuring and managing the impact you (intend to) create. Social Return On Investment (SROI) is one of several frameworks, which can be used for social impact measurement.

An SROI analysis can serve a range of purposes. It can be used as a tool for strategic planning and improving, for communicating impact and attracting investments, and for making investment decisions. But the most significant benefit of the SROI method is that it provides a complete picture of the impact of your project, programme, investment or business: the negative and the positive, the intended and the unintended.

Suppose that you are the director of a foundation, which aims to reduce excessive alcohol consumption of adolescents between the ages of 25 and 30 by means of a support programme. The only way you can determine the impact of your programme is by giving your beneficiaries a voice, for example via a survey. By involving your stakeholders you will understand which part of your programme has really created a change for them, and how they value these changes.

SROI enables you to recognize the negative and the positive impact of your programme. For example, the survey may show that some of your beneficiaries, who also received family support, have greatly benefitted from your programme and have quit drinking alcohol. Subsequently, the participants who did not have any family support have not been able to quit their alcohol consumption and do now feel depressed that the programme did not help them. These stakeholders feel worse than before the programme commenced: the programme has created negative value for them. This provides valuable management information: in order to increase the value you create, it would be sensible to allow only those people who have access to family support on your programme going forward. Had you not asked your stakeholders, you would not have found out about this and would have continued to create negative value.

By taking into account all the outcomes you create, SROI provides a more complete and sincere picture of your impact than just measuring your project KPIs, such as the number of attendees. And most importantly: it shows you whether you are indeed creating value for those you are trying to help.

Take a few minutes to look at our Step by Step Guide to SROI and learn how it can help you make better decisions and be accountable to your stakeholders. After all, if you do not value what matters, how can you be sure that you’re doing the right thing?

Download our Step by Step Guide: 

 > Step by step guide to SROI