Social Impact Vs Business Impact

In my first blog post “Where are we heading?”, I wrote about the challenge of knowing what each stakeholder wants the organisation to achieve and how vital a clear methodology and framework is to get stakeholder buy-in. A new challenge has arrived for us – Social Impact vs Business Impact.

So what have we been doing at Knightstone Housing since that blog on our social impact journey?

In the last eight months, we have held six team workshops, six social value group meetings, created 22 outcomes for our three services, created a theory of change for each service, held one resident workshop and began piloting two new tools … and breathe!!

We are now a month into our 6 month pilot of evidence collection. Initial checks are showing some of our data collection tools are working better than others but we are making changes in order to improve on this.

The curve ball thrown into the path of our project is the need to show that our Community Investment activities are creating bottom line savings to our core business – Housing.

Housing Association stakeholders want to know if getting someone into employment has a direct effect on their ability to pay rent. Does a more connected community result in less anti-social behaviour over time, reducing tenancy enforcement workload? Does an individual support service supporting tenants at risk of eviction result in savings related to avoiding legal fees, lost rent and costs of re-letting the property?

Housing Associations are social enterprises and I would argue that community investment activities deliver on our social aims as a business, end of! They utilise a surplus from renting and selling homes to improve the lives and communities where our residents live. Through our social impact we should and do see knock on effects to our core business.

What we are being asked now is to put a value on these business impacts which is required by our funding stakeholders. Certainly in the private sector this move towards total business value in evident, see “Social value and corporate value are increasingly connected”By Barend van Bergen, Global Head of Sustainability Advisory, KPMG on SIAA Blog.

We are scoping a project with HACT and a number of other housing associations to create some proxy values, similar to their work on Wellbeing, that value the bottom line impact of community investment activities. Year two in our impact journey will be to integrate the business impact indicators into our services Theory of Change and impact reporting methodology.

The evidence we are gathering around our social impact this year will be full of qualitative examples of how our community investment has an impact on the business, next step is to put a financial value on it.

Social Impact is definitely not a one off exercise but a journey to better impact which requires continual change and the ability to react as stakeholder requirements change.

Did someone tell you social impact analysis was easy!!


Andrew Callaghan has been working in the housing sector for over two and a half years.  He is responsible for measuring the social impact of the Individual and Community Empowerment at Knightstone Housing. Interests include the use of Open Data, visualising/mapping data and social impact measurement.  He is based in Bristol, UK.

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