This checklist is intended to support people who are seeking to apply the social value approach in the international development and humanitarian assistance sectors.
It is designed for project managers or project funders, and should be read in conjunction with the wider guidance on social value. In particular, it should be used in conjunction with SVI’s Guide to Social Return on Investment, and the stages below reflect the stages of SROI as outlined in the guide.
If you have any comments on the checklist, or any resources to suggest, please contact us.
For many organisations working in international development and humanitarian assistance, a social value approach can represent a significant change from existing practice. Focusing on planning for social value within the organisation can help ensure that a social value analysis proceeds more smoothly, that results are more widely understood, and that findings can be acted on. This is particularly true when organisations are spread across different countries, or drawing on funding from different organisations with different expectations.
Planning a social value analysis presents a different set of challenges to a typical evaluation of an international development or humanitarian assistance project. Social value’s focus on actual outcomes, rather than intended outcomes, means that a greater range of stakeholders typically needs to be involved. Likewise, the focus on measuring outcomes – rather than just outputs – means that social research with stakeholders becomes more important. This will have implications on resourcing, particularly on how you resource the primary research that a social value analysis needs.
A social value study will typically differ from other evaluations in its focus on both intended and unintended outcomes, and on involving stakeholders to identify those outcomes. Mapping outcomes and conducting high-quality qualitative research presents both an operational and logistical challenge for organisations. It also presents an opportunity to give power to stakeholders by ensuring their views and experiences are placed at the heart of a social value analysis.
A social value study will often require the collection of more, and different types, of quantitative data than is typical for an evaluation. This may include collecting subjective data directly from participants on how much change they have experienced and the relative value of that change. As with qualitative research, conducting high quality quantitative research presents both an operational and logistical challenge for organisations. It also presents an opportunity to give power to stakeholders by ensuring their views and experiences are placed at the heart of a social value analysis.
Establishing impact requires an understanding of how long outcomes last, and what would have happened in the absence of a programme or project. Both of these become more challenging when the local evidence base is more limited.
Much of the guidance on calculating social value is based on using just one currency. Calculations become more complicated when projects are funded in one country and delivered in another, with exchange rates that can fluctuate dramatically – especially in emergency situations. This becomes even more important when outcomes are given a monetary value.
Social value studies in the international development and humanitarian assistance fields can lead to changes in programme design, increases in funding, and greater accountability to stakeholders. Undertaking a social value study will usually lead to learnings for your organisation about applying the social value approach, and how this can be strengthened in the future.