What's your social value?


How do you measure the social value of an organisation?

Like any business, social enterprises and community interest companies have to have robust accounting procedures in place, HR policies, appropriate documentation and the like, in order to function as an ongoing concern and to prove their effectiveness.

However, unlike commercial businesses, the effectiveness of social enterprises and CICs can be measured much more usefully in terms of their value to society rather than via a profit and loss sheet.

But how do you measure that? It can be a difficult thing to quantify and many organisations struggle to account for the impact they’re having and the difference they are making to peoples’ lives. Some don’t even think about measuring it, despite it being at the core of what they actually do.

There are some easy fixes to this and organisations wanting to keep a record of their social value might consider recording things like:

- money spent with suppliers and how that boosts the economy, especially locally

- salaries paid and the economic impact that has

- volunteer hours and experience gained

- environmental impact (sharing transport / recycling etc)

At the same time, it’s important to consider how the organisation lives up to its own mission and values. Do you even have a value statement? This can lead to thinking about measuring social value differently.

As an organisation, how do you promote physical and mental well-being amongst your team and for those you come into contact with? How do you affect and improve the quality of life for these people? What are you doing to develop potential? 

Often, these are things which are happening quite naturally in the way that CIC’s run, but people don’t stop to think about the real and significant value this has in the wider community. 

To demonstrate…

I’m a freelance marketing consultant and I’ve mainly worked in the arts, culture and tourism industry. Being married to Hormoz, one of Result CIC’s Directors, I’ve been there from the inception of the company so, when they won in the 2015 National Diversity Awards, I suggested that they may want to consider some form of marketing support. As a result, I built a new website, created a newsletter, a social media strategy, and our monthly meetings help the organisation to focus on best communicating the important work that Result CIC does with one vital aim in mind - to enable the support of more people and organisations who will benefit from it.

Result CIC is a small company with big ambitions. To help to deliver them we recently took on a volunteer placement, James. He’s already proven to be a great asset. In return for the tasks we set for him, he gets to experience how a small CIC runs. He’ll also get free coaching and I’ll be mentoring him in marketing practice, something he’s keen to learn.

Right now, his volunteer experience is really benefitting Result CIC but who knows what impact this will have on James and his future? 

Meanwhile, DaDaFest is an arts organisation based in Liverpool. Its remit is to create and promote work by disabled and deaf artists, and to encourage young disabled people to learn the skills which will enable them to flourish as artists, performers or practitioners.

Through a recommendation from Result CIC’s Jane, who was its Chair at the time, I was asked to provide some mentoring to the DaDaFest marketing team and have consequently joined the organisation as a Board Member. I’ve just delivered a 2 year marketing plan to support them and next year will see the launch of a new website I’ve been working on.

That website is designed and built by Web, a Leith based company I’ve worked with over the years. Together we created sites for The Lowry and Manchester International Festival. Andrew Adamson, Director of Web, once told me that he’d be interested in working with organisations based on social value rather than income. So when it came to a new Result CIC website, he put his money where his mouth is and created it with the utmost altruism. Consequently, and with his company’s concern for social value and societal fairness, he’s the first person I turned to to work on the DaDaFest redevelopment.

And that’s the thing with social value - it’s the absolute embodiment of the idea that what goes around comes around.

What you put out there has repercussions, some of which you’ll know about and be able to measure, some of which may produce ideas and actions and benefits you’ll never know you were part of.

And if that’s not important to your organisation, what is?

Robert Martin is a Marketing Consultant working in arts, culture and tourism. Visit robmartinmarketing.com to find out more. 


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