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What is Social Value?

What is social value? Social value is the quantification of the relative importance that people place on the changes they experience in their lives. Some, but not all of this value is captured in market prices. It is important to consider and measure this social value from the perspective of those affected by an organisation’s work.

Examples of social value might be the value we experience from increasing our confidence, or from living next to a community park. These things are important to us, but are not commonly expressed or measured in the same way that financial value is.

At Social Value UK, we believe that social value has a huge potential to help us change the way we understand the world around us, and make decisions about where to invest resources. By changing the way we account for value, we believe that we will end up with a world with more equality and a more sustainable environment. You can join us on this journey by becoming a member.

We believe anyone can start to account for their social value, no matter the size of the organisation or the amount of resources available. Click on the following links to find out more:

Social Value for Commissioners

Commissioners can use social value in a number of different ways. Social value can help explore what types of value the market can provide. It can also help define outcomes that are relevant to a commissioner and provide a framework for exploring whether the outcomes can be included in a commissioning process.

Here are some publications relevant to commissioners:

Social Value for Business

Using the Principles of Social Value can help business identify risks and opportunities and provide a framework for assessing whether the business should actively manage them.

For businesses that are selling to customers that have social or environmental goals, the Principles of Social Value can help business identify how it can contribute to those goals.

Social Value for Investors

The Principles of Social Value can be used as part of the due diligence process for making an investment.

This can range from a risk management approach, helping you check that the organisation seeking finance has considered and is making steps to manage the relevant social and environmental risks, through to a business support approach for social investors, helping you check that the organisation is the right systems to manage the value they are planning to create.

Click here to download a copy of the guide to SROI for social investors.

“The core business of Noaber is to create social return, through grants and social investments. Measuring impact accurately is therefore crucial to our success, and SROI enables us to assess all relevant aspects. We have integrated SROI in our business processes of screening, monitoring and evaluating projects. Supported by the social e-valuator webtool, the method helps the team to really involve (potential) projects in analyzing and improving the social business case. Identifying the key stakeholders and social value drivers improves the quality of the decision making and monitoring process. In conclusion, SROI helps us and our investees to focus on the factors that are significant in achieving the positive change that is aimed for.”– Jan Olde Loohuis- Investment Analyst

Social Value for Organisations with a Social Purpose

Organisations which have social objectives will want to know if they are achieving these objectives. The Principles of Social Value can help organisations design systems that ensure they have the information they need.

This information can help in developing strategies to increase the social and environmental value you create, manage activities by comparing performance against forecasts and help communicate with funders and beneficiaries.

Information elsewhere on this site will show you how and show examples of how others have used the Principles of Social Value.

“Bulky Bob’s won the contract not only on the quality of the tender submission and value for money but also on the additional social and environmental benefits they bring to Liverpool and its residents. We were very impressed with their creative ideas and passion and crucially with the strength of the information they could provide to demonstrate that what they do really makes an impact”– Keith Cadman, Partnership & Contracts Manager, Liverpool City Council.


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