Applying social value to international development and humanitarian assistance

SVDHA launched its first social value case studies, and checklist for applying social value, at last week’s SVM2021 conference.

Last week, at Social Value Matters 2021, SVDHA launched its first case studies, and its checklist on applying social value to the international development and humanitarian assistance sectors. 

SVDHA – or Social Value in Development and Humanitarian Assistance – was set up in October 2020 by Social Value International and Envoy Partnership. SVDHA aims to raise awareness around the application and benefits of social value in international development and humanitarian assistance, and to build the skills and capabilities of people applying social value in these sectors. 

The first three case studies are now live on the SVDHA website – and further case studies are in development. We have learned several lessons from the case studies: 

  • The social value approach helps international development and humanitarian assistance organisations understand their broader impact, and focusing on outcomes that have not previously been measured. 
  • Engaging with stakeholders has been challenging, but has significant benefits. 
  • Power dynamics between different stakeholders (international funders, local funders, delivery organisations, local partners, government, evaluators, beneficiaries) can affect the way that research is designed and implemented.  
  • Monetisation of outcomes is challenging and inconsistent; organisations want further advice and resources on monetisation and currency comparability between countries. 

We also have developed a checklist for applying social value to the international development and humanitarian assistance sectors. The checklist is designed to be read in conjunction with the SROI guide – and broadly follows the six stages of SROI, together with a Stage 0: “Organisational planning and preparation”. 

Three themes in particular arise from the checklist: 

  • Gaining an understanding of how cultural factors and power dynamics affect both qualitative and quantitative research is essential – particularly across different regions and countries. 
  • Concepts that are understood in a certain way by funders are not necessarily understood in the same way by local stakeholders. It is important to ensure that language such as ‘wellbeing’ or ‘empowerment’ does not get lost in translation. 
  • There is more work to do: we need further guidance on applying concepts such as attribution, and on monetising outcomes. 

We will be exploring these areas in more detail in the coming months. 

Many people have contributed to the development of this checklist – including from the SVDHA membership and within the SVI community. Thank you to all who have contributed! If you have any feedback on the checklist, or additional resources to highlight, please share with us. 

SVDHA will soon be planning its activities for the next 12 months. We’d love you to be part of the conversation – you can find out more by joining our mailing list

Find out more about SVDHA’s social value case studies: 

  • Femina Hip provides edu-tainment to young people, runs extracurricular “Fema clubs” and offers transformative life skills training and entrepreneurship education that supports young people to know themselves better and to self-organize as active citizens. Read more. 
  • The Rinat Akhmetov Foundation provided food aid to people affected by conflict in the Donbas region of Ukraine, from the start of the conflict in 2014 until 2020. Read more. 
  • Tearfund supported EFICOR’s Community Social Worker Training, equipping individuals with knowledge, skills and tools to use as change agents in communities. Read more.


Oliver Kempton is a Partner at Envoy Partnership and Chair of SVDHA