TRACE your social value | How to measure your organisation’s social value impact

By Laura Davies, managing consultant, Valcon

Social value has been ‘a thing’ in the business world since the 70s. But it has gradually increased in prominence, particularly in the last decade as awareness of the importance of operating sustainably has grown. Of course, it’s not just about sustainability. Social value incorporates what organisations do in terms of community (their relationships with the communities in which they operate and employ people), wellbeing (ensuring employees are well looked after and supported) and diversity (the importance of creating a diverse workforce has risen to the top of the corporate agenda in recent years).  

‘Giving something back’, cultivating good social relations, thinking about your impact on the planet and ensuring your employees are well looked after and are representative of the population has become a business imperative. Social value is now front and centre.

But it’s not enough to just put social value measures into place. It’s really important to track social value so you can measure if the programme you are putting in place is effective and achieving the right goals. Take the public sector and social value in procurement – if this is tracked effectively, valuable insights can be derived and you can help drive improvement around meeting contractual requirements you have with suppliers. So how can organisations effectively trace social value? Here are our five top tips:

  • Transparency – you should consider the context in which the social impact is being made and be transparent about how data is collected and processed. This provides a complete picture of the value added and ensures accountability across the social value chain.  
  • Reliability – you should make sure you choose data sources that are reliable and relevant to the impact being measured. This provides a more accurate view of the value being added.  
  • Alignment – you need to ensure that the metrics chosen to track social value add align with your organisations’ goals and values, as well as the specific social impact being made. Metrics can range from inputs (the resources used to execute the programme) and activities (what the organisation does), to outputs, outcomes and expected impact. All of these should be designed with the organisation’s social value intentions in mind. 
  • Consistency – consistent data collection and measurement over time are critical for tracking progress and making meaningful comparisons. Implementing consistent data collection methodologies will ensure reliable and comparable data.  
  • Engagement – engage with relevant stakeholders to understand their perspectives and incorporate their feedback into your tracking methods. This will also help to build trust and credibility with your stakeholders.  

It is all very well engaging in social value initiatives, but unless you can measure their impact, you can become unstuck. Tracking social value will help you get the investment for the programmes that work, improve transparency, help you better engage with stakeholders and will help you improve your reputation, as well as getting that warm fuzzy feeling of doing something that really does help. And you can prove it.

Want to know more? If you would like to learn more about how to measure the efficacy of your social value programmes, please email [email protected] and we’ll be in touch right away.