What a journey: A decade with Social Value International

Written by Andreas Rickert, CEO & founder of PHINEO.

“Social Impact … WHAT??” This is how the journey started. Nobody understood who we were and what we wanted.

In 2009, I was Director at Bertelsmann Stiftung and just about to found PHINEO – a think-and-do-tank for civil society in Germany. Independent assessment of NPOs was planned as a key product of PHINEO. However, we had no clue how to analyse social impact. Luckily we found NPC in the UK – and we basically copied their approach. Thanks for all your support, NPC team!! Even more important than knowledge transfer was the finding, that we were not completely alone. And we assumed that there were even more like us out there, interested in analysing social impact. The idea was born to build a network for impact analysts, leading to the founding of the Social Impact Analysts Association (SIAA), and I had the privilege to be a board member. The SIAA obviously met a need, then we grew to a few hundred members. Great, but we were still a niche.

In the non-profit-world, we love to talk about collaboration, but in too many cases we tend to do our own thing – leading fragmented approaches and not really achieving scaled impact. Realising that, SIAA and the SRIO Network started a discussion about joining forces. And we did! In 2015, the two organisations merged and Social Value International was born.

While the beginning of SVI was dominated by laying the basis for our work – like defining our principles and developing new products – we successfully leveraged our strengths. In my opinion, we could build on three key success factors: 

  1. Even though our core are methods, we very clearly also articulate our normative positioning. We strive to make the world a better place by applying social value principles. 
  2. We are real thought leaders, as we are a driving force for developing accounting for social impact. 
  3. We are a real global player. Our strength comes with all the national and associated networks and their members all around the world.

Building on these success factors, we have achieved a lot over the last 10 years. Social Value International has significantly grown, we have expanded our product portfolio and we are partnering with many relevant organisations out there such as UNDP, OECD, Capitals Coalition, ANDE, EVPA and many more. Due to many reasons also the world has changed and many people and many players are looking for purpose and want to achieve impact.

Thus, SVI is a catalyser for a world caring about impact. We have achieved a lot, and it has been a pleasure to be an active part of SVI for the last decade. Thank you very much to all my colleagues over the years! I will always be part of the family and I am looking forward to achieving more impact together.

Yes, we have achieved a lot, but the journey is just about to really start… till everybody knows and lives: “Social Value – yes sure!”

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