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An African model of Social Impact Measurement: testing European knowledge in the context of social innovations in the Western Cape region of South Africa

An African model of Social Impact Measurement: testing
European knowledge in the context of social innovations in the
Western Cape region of South Africa
Meldrum, Bev
The Warehouse Trust
Plantation Road, Wetton, Cape Town, South Africa
The Business of Social and Environmental Innovation Conference
Cape Town, 14-16th November 2011
Please note this a work in process, comments and suggestions for the development of this
paper are very welcome.
page 1 of 18
This paper looks to develop an African narrative on Social Impact
Measurement, building on the work done in the UK and US, and in particular the
SROI and social accounting models. Looking at three case studies of
organisations in the Western Cape, this paper suggests that the resource
demands on the organisations required to implement these models are too
high. It proposes the development of a tiered model of social impact
measurement that will address issues that relate to translating existing models
to an African context.
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An African model of Social Impact Measurement: testing European
knowledge in the context of social innovations in the Western Cape
region of South Africa
This paper looks to develop an African narrative on Social Impact
Measurement, particularly focusing on case studies of social innovations in the
Western Cape region, learning from the knowledge and experience gained in
the European third sector.
In developed economies one methodology has yet to prove suitable for all, so
how does an emerging or developing economy find any that are suitable for
their own context? Are there any models that have been birthed of Western
knowledge that are flexible and adaptable enough to work within African
contexts; or is there a need to start an entirely new discourse and build an
African knowledge? These are the central questions of this research.
It is assumed, in this research, that the benefits of measuring and reporting on
social impact for the different stakeholders - be they funders, beneficiaries, staff
or partners - have been proven and therefore no time in this paper will be given
over to this debate.
If being able to ‘prove’ the extent of the social impact of social and
environmental innovations can be of considerable benefit to stakeholders, the
question is then what model of Social Impact Measurement would work in a
developing economy such as South Africa?
Can models be built that reflect the constant adapting and changing nature of
these structures? Do the models coming out of the European third sector
account for this, or does the social impact measurement industry simply provide
a better, more suitable tool to change to when it is needed? Is a social impact
measurement model that is dynamic in nature, following social innovations
through every stage of their life cycle, even possible?
The testing of Social Impact Measurement systems that were birthed in the
developed ‘third sector’ of European countries and the ‘non-profit sector’ of the
US in a developing economy such as South Africa will provide an insight into
their adaptability and suitability in different environments and cultures.
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The paper will review two models of Social Impact Measurement used in the
UK. It will then introduce three case studies from the Western Cape and
analyse the potential effectiveness of using each of the models with the case
Review of the Literature
There is a growing body of research that is emerging from the third sector in
European countries and other developed economies relating to Social Impact
Measurement in social innovation projects (Richmond et al., 2003; Zappala &
Lyons, 2009). Much of this comes from within the discourse around social
entrepreneurship (Gordon, 2009; Ryan & Isaac, 2008) and in a slightly different
form, from within the Corporate Social Investment (or Corporate Social
Responsibility) arena (Shaikh & Jakpar, 2007; Yaftian, 2011).
In the UK (the focus of this paper’s research into Social Impact Measurement
methodologies) significant funding from the national Government, both in
England and Wales as well as in Scotland, is behind the adoption of Social
Return on Investment (SROI) as a tool to be used in the third sector (Arvidson
et al., 2010; Ryan & Isaac, 2008). This tool is particularly suited for large
organisations that have contracts with local, regional or national government,
due in part to the tool’s ability to show the monetary value of the social impact
their services are having - a useful tool for government who want to show value
for money.
In the UK Social Impact Measurement has become an industry in itself:
software tools are developed and sold, and individuals train up as consultants in
this very specific area, offering their services for a price.
This section of the paper will summarise the recent debates around Social
Impact Measurement and then focuses on two models in particular - Social
Return on Investment and Social Accounting. There are a number of other
models available in the UK, however these are two of the most widely used.
Social Impact Measurement
Social Enterprise East of England defines Social Impact Measurement (SIM) as
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“... the process by which an organisation provides evidence that its
services are providing real and tangible benefits to people or the
environment.” (Lyon et al., 2010:1)
Although measurement is not a new concept for social innovations there has
been a shift from measuring outputs to measuring outcomes, and measuring
what Lyon et al. refer to as the “softer elements related to social
inclusion” (ibid.).
Research suggests that there are a number of different forces influencing this
change, both internal and external to the organisations themselves. The
Roberts Enterprise Development Fund (REDF), the originators of the Social
Return on Investment (SROI) tool, highlight:
“... an absence of appropriate measures by which the value created
by nonprofit organizations may be tracked, calculated, and attributed
to the philanthropic and public “investments” financing those
impacts.” (Emerson & Cabaj, 2000:10)
They suggest that this creates a frustration in the nonprofit sector with
practitioners, as existing monitoring systems are not giving them the full picture,
“making it difficult to apply their scarce resources wisely” (ibid.).
One force, that could be considered both internal and external is the impact that
the ongoing economic crisis is having on charitable giving worldwide. Nicholls
suggests that:
“... it is now more important than ever that we allow for better
recognition of those who create social and environmental value,
leading to more efficient movement of resources to the right people,
in the right place, at the right time.” (2009:3)
As an internal force this could encourage a sense of a competitive funding
environment, creating the need for a social innovation to prove it is better than
the rest - having a greater impact per investment - in order to be successful in
securing funding. As an external force, reductions in funds available for funders
and investors to distribute may encourage funders to use the measurement of
social impact, or even predictions around future social impact, to aide in their
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Another external force highlighted by Arvidson et al. (2010) and Lyon et al.
(2010) is the increase in third sector organisations delivering public services. As
they become partners with government, they are experiencing a change in the
way they are being assessed. A change in how philanthropists give has also
been noted, moving from the traditional ‘giving’ approach to ‘investing’ in
organisations instead (Arvidson et al., 2010). The growth of the impact
investment field is evidence of this, as giving becomes “a form of social
investment which like a financial investment, demanded a measured statement
of return” (Zappala & Lyons, 2009:6).
Another external force that is suggested as having an impact on the rise of
Social Impact Measurement, is that of the development of the Corporate Social
Investment (CSI) field (Zappala & Lyons, 2009). However the authors also
recognise that many corporations “remain uninterested in measuring the impact
of their social initiatives” (Zappala & Lyons, 2009:4). Maybe, at this stage, it
would be more accurate to state that the growth of CSI has the potential to
influence the development of social impact measurement.
There has only been one study to date in the UK analysing the use of social
impact measurement models (Lyon et al., 2010). For 60% of the organisations
in the study, external pressure from grant givers was the most common factor in
motivating organisations to undertake a Social Impact Measurement exercise.
Pressure from grant making agencies were the most common motivating factor
(stated by 19 of the 32 interviewees), both due to requiring Social Impact
Measurement evidence in applications as well as requiring organisations to
collect impact measures once they have received funding. Only 13% of the
organisations had internal learning as their primary motivation; although a
further 34% did have this as a secondary motivation (Lyon et al., 2010:2).
Arvidson et al. suggest in response to this study and a similar one in the US,
that the implementation of Social Impact Measurement approaches is used to
“influence those outside the organisation, as a form of marketing or to
demonstrate a form of ‘business like’ legitimacy” (2010:15).
Measuring social impact is by its very nature more challenging than the
measurement of outputs; it requires wise and thoughtful judgement as to which
are the best indicators to measure. These measurements try to “explore how
social change is achieved, and how change can be demonstrated and
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illustrated with the purpose of proving that value has been created” (Arvidson et
al., 2010:3).
It has been suggested that all Social Impact Measurement models share a
common set of main stages in the process. A key stage in the process is to
Identify the theory of change (Arvidson et al., 2010:9). This is a “narrative
account of how the outcomes of a project are achieved through the activities
conducted. One of the goals of Social Impact Measurement is the identification
of this theory of change, increasing understanding of how best to maximise the
outcomes for beneficiaries.” (Sital-Singh, 2011:19).
Social Return on Investment
The Social Return on Investment (SROI) model has its foundations in a benefit
cost analysis approach (Olsen & Nicholls, 2005; Arvidson et al., 2010). The
Roberts Enterprise Development Fund (REDF) first started discussing the
possibility of such a model in 1996 and published its SROI methodology in 2001
after testing it in 23 social businesses (Emerson & Cadaj, 2000). In 2003 the
New Economics Foundation began work on a related SROI model and in 2005
they launched an online guide to SROI (Olsen & Nicholls, 2005).
The SROI tool is described as a “holistic and comprehensive” tool (Arvidson et
al., 2010) that aimed to “calculate a financial rate of return for money invested in
services by calculating in financial terms the social value of the service
provided” (Lyon et al., 2010).
Early on as the REDF SROI was being developed it was described as being a
tool for measuring and reporting on socio-economic impacts, the one aspect of
nonprofits that was the most overlooked (Emerson & Cadaj, 2000). The
economic impacts of a social innovation were already being measured, and the
purely social impacts were considered to be “difficult to agree upon and quantify
or to assess in terms of dollars” but that “nonetheless has intrinsic value, and its
pursuit is perhaps the primary motivation for many working in the nonprofit
sector” (Emerson & Cadaj, 2000:10). To address this, REDF actively
encouraged organisations to use SROI alongside other tools (ibid.).
What is unique about SROI is that it includes estimations of deadweight (what
would have happened anyway if the activity had not happened), attribution (how
much credit can be claimed by the organisation), displacement (whether a
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positive outcome for one person deprives others) and drop-off (how long the
positive changes will last) (Sital-Singh, 2011).
The use of SROI in the UK is increasing, and some funders are also beginning
to use it for themselves and those they give grants to; but it is not widespread
(NPC, 2010). Although SROI is seen as having potential as a tool, limited
research has been done on its use at this stage of its development (Arvidson,
2010; NPC, 2010).
The ambition of the SROI Network, an organisation in the UK that is promoting
the use of the tool, is to “create a standardised way of measuring created
value” (Arvidson et al., 2010:15). A project funded by the Cabinet Office in the
UK and the Scottish government is developing a database of indicators and
financial proxies that can be used at part of the tool (NPC, 2010). Such a
database would reduce costs for organisations, which would be welcomed, as
an SROI analysis can cost an organisation on average £15,000 (R190,000),
with more extensive studies costing up to £40,000 (R500,000) (Arvidson et al.
Social Accounting
Social accounting is a well established method of social impact measurement.
In the UK the tool has been developed and marketed by the Social Audit
Network (SAN).
The social accounting method uses an organisation’s existing monitoring and
evaluation data, and builds on it to identify outcomes and indicators and in order
to measure the social impact of a project or organisation. It differs from an
external evaluation in the sense that the organisation itself identifies its values,
outcomes and then reports on how well they are being met, based on the views
of its stakeholders (SAN, 2009).
There are three steps in the process of preparing social accounts. The first step
is the planning of the process - being clear about the mission, values and
outcomes of the organisation and identifying the stakeholders. The second step
involves deciding what the accounts will cover and setting up the systems to
collect the data. The last stage is compiling a report with the data collected.
These draft accounts are then put through the audit process (ibid.).
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This is where the social accounting method differs from SROI, which does not
have an independent audit process, to ensure that they are fair and unbiased.
Researchers have called for SROI to implement external audits to bring more
rigor and impartiality to the process, although the challenge is how to do this
without what is considered an expensive process, becoming even more so
(Arvidson et al., 2010).
SROI and social accounting share many of the same underlying principles,
those of stakeholder involvement, transparency, materiality and external
verification. Zappala & Lyon suggests that this is due to:
“... the various iterations of SROI developed by the New Economics
Foundation have gradually incorporated more of the SAA
framework.” (2009:19)
The Social Audit Network and SROI Network in the UK are looking at making
the two tools complementary, although no agreement has been made about
monetizing the impact (ibid.).
Case Studies
This paper considers three social innovations in the Western Cape region of
South Africa. They include a social entrepreneur’s start-up craft business, an
established social enterprise beginning to work in countries other than South
Africa and a new social innovation incubator from an established community
development organisation.
All three case studies work with people in deprived communities in South
Africa,:from those living in shacks in Sweet Home Farm, to those in over-
crowded Apartheid-era tenements in Macassar. They provide skills training for
high-risk youth; equipment for disabled people; and support for start-up social
Proudly Macassar Pottery
Based in Macassar, a township between Khayelitsha and Strand just outside of
Cape Town, the pottery project works with young men from the community
teaching them to become potters and set up their own businesses selling the
pots they produce. The pottery focuses on making traditional African
instruments from clay, in particular Udu drums and Ocarina flutes and is run by
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a musician turned social entrepreneur. Proudly Macassar Pottery is a start-up
social enterprise.
Short conversational Interviews with the young men, over the course of a
couple of days, identified that the majority of them are involved to some extent
in local gangs, either as gang members or on the periphery. All of those spoken
to use alcohol and many of them admit to taking drugs. A small number of them
mange to get the occasional day’s work on building sites or undertaking other
manual labour. None of them have completed school.
One of the young men who has shown particular promise and has proven his
commitment to the project has been taken on as a paid intern until the end of
2011. After this time he will set up his own business which will be incubated
from within the pottery. He receives one to one coaching from the potters.
The other young men attend group sessions where they learn different pottery
skills and on one evening a week they attend personal development sessions.
They sell their pots at crafts markets throughout the region. They also work in
partnership with an international musician who takes samples of their work with
him on his trips.
The economic growth of the business is being measured using traditional
accounting methods. Where this piece of research comes in is in looking at how
the pottery can measure the personal development of the young men and the
impact on them, their families and their communities of their involvement in the
Shonaquip is a social enterprise that provides mobility devices and other
specialised equipment for disabled people. They also provide training for health
professionals and therapists and contract with the Western Cape Rehabilitation
Centre to provide local seating clinics for disabled children in the region.
Up to February 2010 Shonaquip had distributed 67,000 wheelchairs and has an
annual turnover of R24 million (ASEN, 2011).
Shoanquip’s measurement focus to date has been the collection and analysis of
clinical data. They have collected anecdotal stories from clients and other
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stakeholders, but had not undertaken any process to measure their social
They are currently in negotiations with J-PAL Africa, Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty
Action Lab’s sub-saharan African division, to undertake an in-depth impact
evaluation of improved access to mobility devices for children from low income
households in South Africa. The study is expected to take four years.
Shonaquip are fully committed to this process, but also recognised that a small
introductory research study would be of benefit whilst they wait for the longer
study to be completed. The initial study focuses on the impact of the seating
clinics they run on behalf of the Western Cape Rehabilitation Centre.
The Warehouse Incubator
The Warehouse Trust was established in 2003 by a group of Anglican churches
in Cape Town to enable church communities to play an active role in
transforming poor communities across the area. They have a an annual
turnover of R3.6 million.
They run a number of programmes includes food packs for families of children
with HIV/AIDS; organising donations of clothing and furniture for families in
need; working amongst children and young people in communities like Sweet
Home Farm and Manenberg, and supporting business start-ups.
After a recent organisation-wide evaluation it was decided to re-focus the
energies of the Warehouse team to empowering the local churches to act
themselves, rather than the Warehouse delivering the programmes directly.
As part of the newly focused organisation an incubator is being developed that
will identify social innovations, support them in their infancy and them enable
them to grow and develop.
Up until now the organisation has been required to undertake minimal
monitoring and evaluation. Much of their funding comes from individuals and
church groups, locally as well as internationally; other funding comes from
funders which require minimal reporting.
One of the projects that is part of the Warehouse is working with women who
are experiencing ongoing trauma. That project is using a method of social
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impact measurement to analyse the success of the intervention. The issue
being considered is whether a similar method of social impact measurement
could be used across the organisation.
Themes for Discussion
There is significant discussion in the literature about the motivations
organisations have for undertaking a Social Impact Measurement process.
Shonaquip were frustrated with the lack of evidence they had of the impact their
services. They were looking to be able report on their impact to external funders
and other external stakeholders. Proudly Macassar Pottery is concerned with
building a theory of change that they can use to develop their services to
maximise their impact in the lives of the high-risk youth with whom they work.
The Warehouse’s incubator project will be looking to develop a theory of
change for their new projects so that they can make projections of expected
impact and identify which social innovations would be the most successful in
addressing a social issue.
These are only three cases studies, but it is worth noting that for two out of
three the main motivations were internal, rather than for the benefit of external
stakeholders, in contrast to the findings of the research quoted in the literature
review. This may be due to the small number of case studies, although it would
also be interesting to undertake further research to identify whether it is at all
related to immaturity of the social impact measurement sector in South Africa as
compared to the UK, or a lower level of external pressure from funders and
other stakeholders.
The process described by the SROI and social accounting tools include
identifying a theory of change, outcomes and indicators. None of the case
studies had previously done any work around a theory of change. As part of the
interview process undertaken with Shonaquip and Proudly Macassar Pottery a
conversation was begun around this. Shonaquip had developed a series of
outcomes which they have used for funding applications and developing their
work. The Warehouse is currently coming to the end of a strategic change
process. As part of this process they have been developing a series of
organisational wide outcomes. Once the incubator is up and running, for each
social innovation they establish they will need to go through the process of
developing a theory of change, and identifying outcomes and indicators.
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The average cost of an SROI process is high at £15,000 (R190,000) but can
also be higher for larger studies. Although not mentioned in the literature review
above, the cost of social accounting and audit would be less than this but the
information was not available. Considering the extensive process involved in
undertaking a set of social accounts and an audit, one would consider there to
be a considerable time cost to internal staff and then any costs relating to
bringing in a consultant and the external audit.
Shonaquip found the cost of SROI to be reasonable and within reach, however
as a SROI analysis would be done alongside other tools to capture the
economic and social impact (alongside the socio-economic impact covered by
SROI) the cost would likely be higher. SROI would be too expensive for The
Warehouse and Proudly Macassar Pottery to consider as an option.
One of the issues raised in an interview at Shonaquip was a concern about the
availability of the data needed to complete an SROI analysis. In the UK a
database of indicators and related financial proxies are being developed.
Shonaquip were concerned that In South Africa this information does not exist
as readily as in the UK and would be very difficult to calculate. There was also a
concern that if they, as a contractee, started to challenge stated costs for
services it may create challenges for relationships with other stakeholders going
Shonaquip is the only case study, out of the three, to have contracts to deliver
services for local government. SROI as a process, despite the potential
challenges raised, could be helpful for Shonaquip in negotiating future contracts
and demonstrating their impact.
Although The Warehouse does not have any contracts to deliver services, the
nature of the new incubator within the organisation would find the ability of
SROI to forecast impact a useful one as they to design social innovations that
will have the greatest impact in addressing social issues. The cost of SROI,
however, would be prohibitive to The Warehouse. Proudly Macassar Pottery are
at too early a stage for SROI to be an appropriate tool for them, or one they
could afford to use. The research identified only one trained SROI practitioner
currently working in South Africa.
The social accounting tool would be a more affordable solution than SROI,
particularly for Shonaquip and The Warehouse. For Proudly Macassar Pottery
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even this tool would be too complex for their current needs. If one of the case
studies were to wish to implement the social accounting process, they would
need to identify a SAN trained social auditor outside of South Africa. It is
assumed that this would incur an extra cost. There are also no trained
consultants, or other practitioners, who are trained in SAN’s social accounting
Because these tools require such a commitment from an organisations, concern
was raised regarding starting off with one tool and embedding that in the
organisation, to then find a few years later that they need to change models
because their current one is no longer suitable for the stage they are at.
The Warehouse Incubator is likely to work with projects in a number of different
sectors and communities, providing a range of different services. The challenge
for them is finding a model of social impact measurement that is flexible enough
to work across these areas, rather than having to use different models for
different projects.
The different cultures within the different communities that the case study
organisations work in must also be considered. Issues were raised around
ensuring stakeholders can engage in their home language. Interviews with the
young men at Proudly Macassar Pottery in English and then later in Afrikaans,
their home language, produced different responses. The English interviews
contained functional answers mirroring their ability of conversing in English
often being restricted to functional English; those completed in Afrikaans had
much more depth, with the young men talking about the impact the project had
had in their lives. A similar discussion was had with Shonaquip when designing
a piece of research to begin the process of measuring their social impact.
There are likely to be other cultural issues that have not yet been considered.
One question to examine is to what extent the different cultures would have
different understandings of what are their priorities in terms of the outcomes of
their projects.. As SROI and social accounting have been shown to have some
element of judgement required in the choosing of outcomes and indicators this
could be a very relevant issue.
Other issues of resource availability in the different communities and issues
such as literacy need to be considered. An internet-based tool requiring
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qualitative responses will not be appropriate in a project that is based in a
township,or that works with people with a low-level of literacy.
The question left to ask at this stage is whether one tool, developed for South
African communities, rolled out across the country - and maybe even into other
countries - is in fact a good idea?
This paper looked at only two social impact measurement models, both based
in the UK. Neither of these were suitable for a start-up social enterprise like
Proudly Macassar Pottery. Social accounting would be a useful tool for The
Warehouse and Shonaquip, however the lack of those trained in using the tool,
and as auditors, would make its use prohibitive. Although SROI may be useful
for an organisation like Shonaquip, which has contracts with local government,
the lack of work done on financial proxies in South Africa and the lack of trained
consultants again suggests it would not be a feasible choice. It is also a
relatively new model and only a limited amount of research has been
undertaken to date, all of that being in Europe and the US.
Although there were only three case studies they were very different in terms of
their size, their structure, the communities they worked in and the services they
provided. No comprehensive mapping exercise of social innovations across
South Africa has been undertaken, so there is no evidence of types of
organisations or the areas they work in. Bearing this in mind, if there are in fact
a wide range of organisations like the three case studies, then any model
developed for this context needs to be flexible enough to work across cultures,
in different languages, in different size of organisations, with different structures
at different stages of their growth, across sectors - and maybe even across
multiple sectors.
The structures that grow up around the social innovations are not static either.
As a social entrepreneur moves from stepping out on their own, to gathering a
community around them, to establishing an organisation, to registering a legal
identity, the structure around them is constantly adapting and changing. As
external actors influence these changes isomorphic behaviour is witnessed with
the social innovations themselves, or at least the structures around them,
becoming more like each other as they develop (DiMaggio & Powell, 1983; Reid
& Griffiths, 2006).
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Maybe a tiered model for social impact measurement would address the issues
raised in this paper. The first tier, for small start-ups, could involve simple
‘distance travelled’ measurements collected over time. These can be creative
exercises that do not require participants to be literate. A second tier could add
in an additional element of triangulation of the data collected, with qualitative
data being analysed alongside quantitative measures. A third tier, could include
more formal reporting - similar to the requirements of social accounting. A
fourth, an external audit. A fifth, the monetising of the data similar to the SROI
method. At each stage more data would be collected and reported on. For those
organisations like Shonaquip, that were once small start-ups and are now large
established social enterprises, they could move through all the stages. For a
project like Proudly Macassar Pottery that does not have the intention of
becoming as large as Shonaquip, they could work through the first couple of
stages and then just keep developing and improving on these, rather than
moving onto the later stages.
In the UK and in the US the Social Impact Measurement industry is growing.
Consultants are specialising in this area. Software is being developed and sold
to organisations undergoing these processes. Resources are available to
purchase and training courses can be attended for a fee. There may not be the
financial resources within the sector to sustain such an approach in South
Africa, and it would certainly keep any social impact measurement model out of
the reach of grassroots social entrepreneurs in rural or township communities.
As we consider the development of Social Impact Measurement models from an
African perspective in this paper, we would like to suggest that we do not follow
the example of the UK and the US and turn Social Impact Measurement into an
industry; instead we need to find a way to develop a model that can be used by
both the grassroots social entrepreneur in a rural community and the large, well-
established social enterprises; that is accessible, affordable, flexible, culturally
appropriate and effective; that focuses on increasing social impact rather than
increasing the profits of consultants and trainers and developers.
page 16 of 18
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... Antonaras et al. 2011:81;Gair 2002Gair , 2009Jardine and Whyte 2013), or improving availability of external data such as shared databases of proxy data (e.g. Jardine and Whyte 2013;Meldrum 2011;Olsen and Lingane 2003). ...
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NPOs and their funders are increasingly drawn to the Social Return on Investment (SROI) method to evaluate the social impact of programs, organizations, or organization networks. While many claims about the benefits of SROI have been expressed, various points of criticism have also been raised. On the basis of both current research and our own experience in conducting SROI analyses, we develop a comprehensive assessment of this method, which is structured along two dimensions: the observer’s paradigmatic perspective, on the one hand, and positive or negative valuation, on the other. We identify two major merits: SROI analysis can provide legitimacy to NPOs or their funders, and it can assist in allocating resources efficiently and effectively. We identify limitations from three perspectives: From an interpretative-sociological perspective, criticism of commensuration and utilitarianism calls the method as a whole into question. From a technical-instrumental perspective, there are a number of difficulties that could, however, be overcome as the method matures. From an intermediary perspective, a number of limitations become apparent that, while inherent to SROI analysis, are no reason for abandoning it, as long as they are thoroughly understood. We conclude by providing suggestions for the responsible use of SROI analysis.
... Limited academic work on social entrepreneurship in South Africa can be partially supplemented by practitioner literature, for example Fury (2010) discusses social enterprise development in South Africa, and opportunities to create a virtuous cycle of investment, start-up and impact, particularly in relation to Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE); a theme which is further explored in this paper. Meanwhile Meldrum (2011) considers social impact measurement and the application of European models to African contexts with reference to social enterprises in the Western Cape. Organisations such as the Social Enterprise Academy Africa (SEAA), ASEN, and UnLtd South Africa have also made a range of training materials available for social entrepreneurs. ...
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The influence of environment on social entrepreneurship requires more concerted examination. This paper contributes to emerging discussions in this area through consideration of social entrepreneurship in South Africa. Drawing upon qualitative case study research with six social enterprises, and examined through a framework of new institutional theories and writing on new venture creation, this research explores the significance of environment for the process of social entrepreneurship, for social enterprises, and for social entrepreneurs. Our findings provide insights on institutional environments, social entrepreneurship, and the interplay between them in the South African context, with implications for wider social entrepreneurship scholarship
... Limited academic work on social entrepreneurship in South Africa can be partially supplemented by practitioner literature, for example Fury (2010) discusses social enterprise development in South Africa, and opportunities to create a virtuous cycle of investment, start-up and impact, particularly in relation to Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE); a theme which is further explored in this paper. Meanwhile Meldrum (2011) considers social impact measurement and the application of European models to African contexts with reference to social enterprises in the Western Cape. Organisations such as the Social Enterprise Academy Africa (SEAA), ASEN, and UnLtd South Africa have also made a range of training materials available for social entrepreneurs. ...
Full-text available
The influence of environment on social entrepreneurship requires more concerted examination. This paper contributes to emerging discussions in this area through consideration of social entrepreneurship in South Africa. Drawing upon qualitative case study research with six social enterprises, and examined through a framework of new institutional theories and writing on new venture creation, this research explores the significance of environment for the process of social entrepreneurship, for social enterprises, and for social entrepreneurs. Our findings provide insights on institutional environments, social entrepreneurship, and the interplay between them in the South African context, with implications for wider social entrepreneurship scholarship.
Full-text available
This article considers the methodological challenge of quantifying the social value generated through social enterprise activity. It argues that in the context of increasing enthusiasm for social enterprise as a mechanism for delivering social services and for tackling social exclusion, it is increasingly necessary to be able to value social impacts. Further it will be necessary to be able to assess the potential creation of social value from different investments in social enterprise. Specifically, this article considers methodology of social return on investment (SROI). SROI has become increasingly promoted in both policy and practice in the United States and the United Kingdom. This article considers the development of this methodology and draws on lessons from international development to highlight the limitations of the current use of SROI.
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What makes organizations so similar? We contend that the engine of rationalization and bureaucratization has moved from the competitive marketplace to the state and the professions. Once a set of organizations emerges as a field, a paradox arises: rational actors make their organizations increasingly similar as they try to change them. We describe three isomorphic processes--coercive, mimetic, and normative-leading to this outcome. We then specib hypotheses about the impact of resource centralization and dependency, goal ambiguity and technical uncertainty, and professionalization and structuration on isomorphic change. Finally, we suggest implications for theories of organizations and social change.
After giving an overview of the development of social accounting, this article presents two models of social accounting for nonprofits: the community social return on investment model and the expanded value-added statement. The discussion focuses on the process for establishing a comparative market value for nonmarket social outputs. The authors discuss these models and the comparative market value in relation to social accounting, an academic field that has evolved as part of a critique of financial accounting, especially its failure to analyze the impact of the organization on society and the natural environment. For the most part, scholars have not related social accounting to nonprofits. This article attempts to draw nonprofits into the field of social accounting. Both models address the social impact of nonprofits by including social inputs and outputs that accounting statements normally exclude.
The ambitions and challenges of SROI
  • M Arvidson
  • F Lyon
  • S Mckay
  • D Moro
Arvidson, M., Lyon, F., McKay, S. and Moro, D. (2010) The ambitions and challenges of SROI, Working Paper no. 49, Third Sector Research Centre,