In the next five years, do you think that inequality and environmental degradation will disappear, or even be reduced?

Blog by Dr Adam Richards, Senior Researcher, Social Value International, from the Impact 2018 conference.


Thought not.

These important challenges may seem insurmountable – but they aren’t. And this is the focus of many people working in the space of social impacts, be they social enterprises, impact investors, private business, or other change makers.

At Social Value UK (SVUK) as part of Social Value International we believe in a world where accounting for social value can help to address inequality and environmental degradation. And we have seen examples where organisations have used information on their social value to improve the way they do things – and this means making even greater impacts in the lives of people.

So, the question is how can organisations account for their social value? Notice, we don’t ask how they can measure their social value – measuring is only the first step, and we should all be focused on how we can use this information to make improvements – doing more with the resources we have.

SVUK have worked for 10 years to promote the Principles of Social Value – and we have seen a growing convergence around the world where people and organisations see the value (sorry for the bad pun!) in the Principles of Social Value. These provide a consistent framework for us to account for social value – putting people and their experiences at the centre of what we do. By listening to the voice of those people that matter to us and understanding the importance of changes in their lives as a result of our work, we can focus our efforts to make more value for them.

This is what social value is – the importance of changes to people’s lives. And this insight is like gold dust – it helps us to understand why people have different experiences, and what they value most. When we have this insight, we can change what we do to make even more positive impacts. The private sector does this all of the time to maximise the financial value that is created through their activities, and those of us interested in social value should be unashamed to also seek to maximise the value created for the people that we care about.

There is a nice virtuous circle to these ideas: The Principles of Social Value empower those very people who matter most to you to be involved in accounting for social value – their voice helps shape what you do – and your activities help to empower them to make sustained positive changes in their lives.

Join me and others at #impact2018 to learn, share and discuss these ideas further – see you there.

Dr Adam Richards is speaking today at the Impact 2018 conference in Zagreb, Croatia. You can follow Adam on Twitter @DrADRichards and the conference using the hashtag #impact2018.

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