To address the capital gap for social enterprises in British Columbia, the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria is in the midst of developing a Community Investment Fund (CIF), an initiative that won a BC Ideas Community Impact Investment Awards last year.
Recently, the winners of the much anticipated “BC Ideas: Solutions for Stronger Communities” competition were announced. This was an exciting event as over $270,000 in funding was allocated to a range of socially innovative organizations that are seeking solutions to the health, social and environmental challenges facing communities in British Columbia.
On November 7th and 8th, I had the pleasure of attending the first Social Impact Purchasing Summit, which offered a unique opportunity for the various players involved with social purchasing to share stories, learn about opportunities, and discuss and address the challenges of bringing social purchasing into the mainstream. Given the impressive turnout, as well as the range of organizations represented, it is safe to say that the event was a success and helped to further the discussion surrounding social purchasing.
Leaders of not-for-profits, social enterprises, and social purpose businesses often ask “how can we demonstrate the value of our work?” While there is no right answer, one technique, social return on investment (SROI), is gaining traction as a framework for demonstrating results. However, SROI is a relatively new field with few practitioners; hence, it can be challenging to draw from best practices or lessons learned. With that said, I’d like to shed some light on my experience with SROI and offer some “lessons learned” to aspiring and new practitioners.