Opinion: Alignment to global social impact principles key to supporting for-purpose organisations
There is a lack of impact measurement approaches which can consistently be applied across a diverse range of social outcomes and be easily adopted, by any organisation who wants or needs to demonstrate their impact. The Australian Social Value Bank was established as a social enterprise to provide a cost-effective solution for measuring social impact.
We worked with Social Value International (SVI) to develop a linkage paper to evidence how the ASVB applies their seven Social Value Principles. We believe their strong endorsement of the approach will unlock our huge potential to support for-purpose organisations.
Why this linkage paper is important
Two of the driving principles behind the creation of the Australian Social Value Bank (ASVB) is comparability and transparency. We want organisations, funders and government to be able to easily compare different interventions to understand the social value they are creating and for it to be completely transparent on how they calculated the social value.
Comparability and transparency come with consistent principles and assumptions in the calculation of social value.
Social Value International (SVI) has been a pioneer globally in creating a consensus between academics, practitioners and governments on the principles which should be applied when measuring social impact.
What is the potential impact of the ASVB in Australia
We are encouraging federal and state governments to endorse our approach and tool. These discussions with federal and several state governments are ongoing. The New Zealand Government is currently using the ASVB effectively across approximately 10 departments for this purpose. The ASVB would provide a common methodology and allow easy comparison of social value reporting within and across different government departments.
Secondly, if governments promote and support its use by service providers and not-for-profits who are working directly for or contributing to delivering government’s social outcome frameworks. It would be a consistent methodology which for those reporting to government is simple to use, makes it easy to compare the social value created, is based on a rigorous and robust methodology, and is completely transparent in how they calculated their social value.
Thirdly, as we continue to grow the number of subscribers to the ASVB, we are establishing communities of practice who are defining both general and sector specific principles and assumptions for the use of the ASVB in Australia. These guidelines will support the growth of impact measurement as a profession, similarly to accounting, with a body of principles and assumptions which are shared and universally applied in Australia.
The ASVB is limited to the number of social outcomes we have values for and the available datasets to create these social outcome values. The ASVB would not be applicable to all the impact measurement needs of organisations in Australia. It is one part of the impact measurement and outcomes-based policy ecosystem.
We have started, and aim to continue, to build the capacity of organisations in Australia to measure their social impact.
Andrew Callaghan is ASVB impact specialist at the Australian Social Value Bank and has been measuring social impact for government, corporate and not-for-profit clients for almost 10 years.