SROI and Demonstrating Value: How can each provide a deeper understanding of social impact? (Part 2)
Note: This post was originally prepared by Sarah Cruickshank and posted on the Demonstrating Value blog.
Yesterday, we began a discussion between Simon Anderson, senior SROI analyst with Social Asset Measurements and Garth Yule, manager of evaluation and community impact with Vancity Community Foundation to discuss the compatibility of Demonstrating Value and Social Return on Investment (SROI). Today we will continue that conversation by discussing how DV can help communicate the results of a SROI analysis, and, the preliminary steps required to complete a SROI assessment or work through the DV process.
How can DV contribute to effective communication of an SROI analysis?
SA: The DV dashboard would be a useful tool for communicating the results of a SROI analysis. While the SROI process involves gathering and utilizing a significant amount of data, other than the SROI ratio, there is not a standardized way of communicating the results. Thus, the DV dashboard could fill this gap.
GY: DV also has a strong element of story telling to it – while developing a snapshot can benefit from using standard metrics libraries like IRIS, the workbook encourages users to design their snapshots in a way that captures the essence and spirit of their work in a way that can inspire and surprise the reader. This focus on narrative and reader engagement can add vibrancy and context to the technical depth of impact analysis that comes from SROI.
For organizations looking to complete a SROI assessment or work through the DV process, what are the first steps they should take?
GY: Assessing your own capacity to take on the work is very important. It is better to develop a manageable system for tracking three key indicators on an ongoing basis than to do a tremendous one-off report that doesn’t build impact evaluation into the core systems of the organization. For small organizations with limited capacity, DV offers building blocks that can be a precursor to a full fledged SROI analysis a year or two down the road.
SA: When an organization is looking at a SROI analysis, two important initial steps are to: 1) determine the organization’s theory of change; and, 2) assess the data that is already being collected.
1) In regard to determining the theory of change, this involves identifying: the key activities of the program, the stakeholders, and how the activities impact the stakeholders. This step ensures there is a clear vision regarding the outcomes of the program, which enables the development of strong indicators for the SROI assessment.
2) With respect to assessing the data that is already being collected, this is important because a SROI assessment requires detailed data, and if this is not being collected, planning is needed to implement the necessary data collection strategies.