Maximise Your Impact Guide

3 months ago Social Value UK challenged me to review a new guide they were preparing. I knew something good was coming, but never expected something SO good. 

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This guide is an extraordinary a summary of all the conversation we, at Social Value, have had over the past two years on crosscutting topics such as social value maximization, experimentation, segmentation and social projects design.

This guide, a major update of the SROI guide, is blends the logics of the private sector with participatory and community building processes coming from the social sciences. Bellow I share 7 highlights of this report: 

1) During the latest years I realized that you cannot ask all NGOs to change from night to day. It is not easy to implement a full inputs, outputs, impact, value M&E system. In most of the cases we need to teach organizations how to do it gradually. The guide explains this very well, while discussing progressive exclusion of outcomes: “In your first year of operation you should collect data on all the well-defined and relevant outcomes...”.

2) I really appreciated how the authors articulated 3 traditional qualitative evaluation tools - Three of ProblemsTheory of Change (ToC) and Outcomes Mapping - to help you understand and manage social change . This guide helps people understand that there REALLY is a difference between the 3 tools. They don't say that the three of problems and the ToC are not useful to do an SROI, but it's clear why we must differentiate between the 3 within a SROI framework. The first two are more useful for management purposes. Outcomes mapping is however distinct and crucial when accounting for unexpected and negative changes. Perfect.

3) In this guide you'll find examples of criteria that you can use for segmentation and how you can create of marketing personas for your social project. This gives the reader the sense of what we mean by segmentation. 

4) The section on rigour is  very good. We have been discussing this publicly over the years, but never before it was so well described in written words. Quoting the authors: “The bigger the consequences, the more rigorous the data needed”. These type of clues are very useful for someone in the field who faces constant resources and data constraints! 

5) Introduction of the concept of contribution, as opposed to impact. This is important because many people misunderstand the term and it has been a trend over the past years. Besides contributing analysis have been a massive trend over the past years. They are the sector's response to the limitations of RCTs and experimental design.

6) The guide introduces reference material on how to account for value. This is new and great. Tips such as asking stakeholders to identify the least important outcome and then ask how many more times important the other outcomes are compared to this one are very very practical and essencial for those who want to take one step forward in value maximization.

7) The recommendations for people to include dropouts and the examples on how to include negative outcomes are fundamental. 

Enjoy your reading and expand your capacity to evaluate towards social impact maximization!