Rest Assured – A Testimonial from a Level 3 Advanced Practitioner
At SVI we work with people from across the globe to access, progress through and achieve assurance, accreditation or certification in the suite of Assurance and Accreditation services.
In this series of blogs, interviews and Q&As we are talking to and hearing from our members from across the globe about their experiences with the different services, why they go through them, what this brings to their practice, and what next.
In 2012-2014, I charted the process of undertaking my first Social Return On Investment study, in a series of blog posts entitled Confessions of a first time SROI practitioner. I still believe strongly in the seven principles of social value and have continued to apply these principles as far as possible to my day-to-day practice; not only in the undertaking of formal SROI studies.
In 2016, I co-wrote an article with the other two Accredited SROI Practitioners in Ireland at that time, which pointed to the importance of peer review and/or external assurance for impact studies that are put out in the public domain. If anything, I feel even stronger about this issue now than I did then.
I have sought assurance for the SROI reports I wrote for Carmichael, CLG Na Fianna/Dublin GAA, Siel Bleu Ireland and Donore Credit Union. The reasons for choosing to do so were of course informed by the external issues raised in that 2016 article, but also by more personal factors. Independently authoring a report that was assured by the then SROI Network used to be a requirement for Accredited Practitioner status (the rules for continuous professional development have now changed somewhat). Social value assessment is an evolving field and I want to keep learning about the latest thinking in that field. The assurance process also keeps me on my toes. I work mainly alone, and it is therefore really useful to hear what peers have to say about my work and to engage with them subsequently to find out how that work can be improved. And hearing that your report has been assured by Social Value International engenders pride and a sense of confidence that your client is releasing a robust report into the world.
The assurance process is not without its challenges, especially for a freelance consultant like myself. It always lengthens a contract. There are strict assurance schedules to be followed that may not align with your own timelines or those of your clients. And there are not insignificant costs associated with it that have to be budgeted for.
I am currently in discussions with a number of potential clients seeking to undertake social impact or SROI studies in 2021, and because they are interested in producing external reports, I have informed them of the great benefits to them and their beneficiaries of having such research assured by a third party. Additionally/alternatively, I usually encourage clients to consider applying for the Social Value Management Certificate, although that has so far proved a harder sell …
The Irish social value scene is changing and gathering pace. Watch this space for some exciting developments in the coming months.
Sandra Velthuis, Whitebarn Consulting
This blog can also be found on the Whitebarn Consulting website here.
Look out for more of our Practitioner’s experiences in upcoming blogs, interviews and Q&As. If you would like to participate in this series do get in touch with Catherine Manning at email@example.com