Creating social value: how can we be sure?
By Susan Balet, Stone Soup consultant specialized in social impat measurement
On April 10th and 11th, Stone Soup Consulting had the opportunity to be part of the Social Value Matters conference in Istanbul. This annual conference, organised by Social Value International and KUSIF, was aimed at how best to amplify voices, inspire change and maximise value while raising awareness on how social value matters. It might seem something obvious for all of us participating at the conference – we were all related to the social sector and social value drives our work. But the topic of the conference made me ask myself the following question: do we stop in our daily busy lives to check and reflect if we are really adding social value through what we do? Do we talk to our stakeholders openly enough to find out if we are or not creating value for all sides? Are we creating the space in our organisations to discuss if we could be generating a negative impact? Do we let that reflection happen?
If I give myself a minute, my response is clearly and unfortunately “not really”. Not so often in the social sector and neither in the private sector. I truly believe we still have to integrate a learning approach in our work. We need to keep evolving towards management models that allow us to integrate those tools and practices that will firmly help answer clearly to these questions. As well as social impact measurement and evaluation, that will let us stop for a minute and think. By doing this we will be able to observe, feel and maybe fully understand the social value we create, if any. The worst news is that we might find we are creating negative externalities. Although never intended, we must be aware that good intentions can sometimes lead to negative consequences.
B Corp - A tale of interdepence
By Cláudia Pedra, managing partner of Stone Soup Consulting.
Stone Soup was asked to share a story of interdependence at the B Corp Europe Summer Summit (20-22 June 2017), which we have attended as a certified B Corp. As some of you may know, every company that joins the B Corp movement signs a Declaration of Interdependence. When I reached Cascais, the Declaration was on the table, standing out in its simplicity but also meaning. It certainly inspired my talk.
The story we chose to share was nothing more than a story of how to create a new concept of community and how it is tangled with the story of Stone Soup Consulting. It all started eight years ago, when five people came together to create a company that could be a force for good. When we reflected on our Theory of Change and decided that Stone Soup would help organisations and social entrepreneurs increase their positive social impact through strategic consultancy, we also reflected on the concept of community. We had this crazy idea, that this community could have the founding partners, consultants, clients, commercial partners, but also competitors that sometimes could be partners. We scheduled several presentations to those competitors and spoke of the concept. Although they smiled politely, the majority looked at us as if what we were proposing was too strange even to consider.
About four years after these early presentations, we were challenged by two major foundations in Portugal to collaborate on the creation of a platform that would help social entrepreneurs and organisations to reach long term sustainability. The only condition for this collaboration was that the concept and operation would have to be done by four organisations (two companies and two NGOs - ourselves, Call to Action, IES and TESE). It was a strong opportunity to implement our original idea of community and finally work on an interdependent model with our competitors/partners. One year after the kick off in Portugal, GEOfundos is a success and on a weekly basis this consortium of four partners meets and works together as a team.
Stone Soup divulga: oportunidade de financiamento para fortalecimento institucional
O programa está aberto para Entidades da Economia Social da região Norte, Centro e Alentejo.
O programa tem um processo, que deve ser iniciado o mais depressa possível, porque exige a realização do diagnóstico antes da entrega da candidatura. Conte com, pelo menos, 2 meses para fazer o processo de candidatura.
Terá também de contratar 2 ou mais prestadores de serviços externos, um para efetuar o diagnóstico e outro(s) para realizar as intervenções de capacitação. Não pode ser o mesmo prestador de serviço a realizar ambos.
O valor total do Programa é de 3 milhões de euros, podendo haver candidaturas de 50.000€, sendo que o diagnóstico só poderá ser no máximo de 5.000€. Aos 50.000€ será subtraído o valor do diagnóstico. O prazo de intervenção máximo é 18 meses.
The Grantee Experience and Insight Review (GEIR)
The Grantee Experience and Insight Review, or GEIR, is a unique global enterprise dedicated to bolstering the impact and success of foundations around the world. The GEIR is grounded upon the conviction that foundation effectiveness is greatly bolstered by relationships of openness, trust, and mutual accountability on the part of foundations and their grantees.
The GEIR helps to enable such relationships by allowing grantees to provide confidential feedback on their financial supporters.
Ø Through a PRACTICE component, grantees provide candid feedback on how they experience the grantmaking process, including proposal and reporting requirements, communications, and more.
Ø Through a VALUES component, grantees shine a spotlight on a grantmaker’s values, checking them against their own experience.
“Measuring our social impact has led to a new fundraising strategy”, Lorena Crusellas from Prevenir Association
Original article published in Spanish on ESADE's ESocialHub
15th March 2017. Lorena Crusellas, Programme Coordinator for the Prevenir Association, started to measure the impact of their work in 2011. At the time it was impossible to imagine the effect this was going to have on the work of this small association with nine employees and an annual budget of 160,000 euros that today works in Spain and Portugal.
Why is it important for your organisation to measure its social impact?
Our work could not be understood today if it did not include measuring, transversally, the social impact we generate. We have seen for ourselves the benefits of identifying and developing our own indicators of results and impacts in our daily work and, more specifically, in our fundraising work. Measuring our social impact has led to a new fundraising strategy which has allowed us to raise more funds of a private nature, especially in this last phase of the economic crisis.
Why did you start measuring your impact?
It all began with the evaluation of the social impact of the project “I’ll pass…” funded in 2011 by the Fundacion EDP, the Oeiras municipality and the Sumol+Compal company. Impact measurement was one of the requirements to get funding for this project whose objective was to promote a healthy lifestyle among 1200 youngsters from 11 to 15yrs. old.
What has been the main benefit obtained by measuring your social impact?
The main benefit can probably be found in the change in our language. We have gone from the original, more conceptual and, up to a certain point, vague discourse to speaking about our work in a clear and structured way. Now all the members of the team are capable of defining simple, concrete indicators and adjusting them to other programmes with similar impact maps. For example: before, our reports spoke of improving health by encouraging a balanced diet amongst the youngsters but lacked data that really showed a behavioural change in them. Now, thanks to the impact indicators, we can pick up on that behavioural change in a concrete way.
How has impact measurement influenced your fundraising?
There have been various benefits in the fundraising field. Perhaps the most important has been working with an external consultancy which has helped us build the models necessary for measuring the social impact of our programmes. That has provided us, I would say, with a hallmark of quality which has given us the strength and confidence to change our image on the one hand and our way of approaching our meetings with possible donors on the other. Since 2011 we can speak with propriety about the results obtained when we meet with new funders such as the Obra Social de la Caixa or the Spanish health authorities. It is a hallmark which provides an internationally recognised methodology of impact measurement and introduces us to a language more common to other funders with whom we were not previously familiar.