Social Value UK (SVUK) is now 10 years old – and we have seen a lot of changes in that time in the world of social value. One of the most positive changes has been the movement away from questions about how we measure social value – to a position where the focus is about how we manage the social impacts of our activities.
But even that isn’t enough for us – sorry, but we’re pushy – and we think management is certainly a step in the right direction, but it’s not far enough. So, for more than having a nice ring to it, we talk about a third ‘M’ of social value – that of maximising.
This means creating as many positive changes in the lives of people as we can with the resources we have. So, just as financial accounting looks to maximise financial returns, we want to account for social value with the same mindset. It is important to say that this does not mean that we all become social value geeks – although along with myself, there is a growing bunch of such people out there – it just means asking important questions to get enough information for us to make better decisions about how we allocate our resources.
We are not on our own with this – as an organisation owned by our members, we represent individuals and organisations that share this ambition. We also see a similar ambition in the recent report from Chris White and SEUK that calls for public bodies to move from considering, to accounting for social value. To account for social value means more than considering that is for certain – but it also means more than measuring. It means that we use the evidence to improve the decisions we take, improve how we create value, ultimately to improve the lives of people.
Sounds nice in theory doesn’t it – but it does of course leave the question of how. This is where the Principles of Social Value can help. They provide a consistent framework for us to account for social value. This allows us to gain insight into the experiences of those people who are affected by our activities – showing where we can make more positive impacts in their lives – and doing so without necessarily spending any more money.
At the Social Value Summit, we will be delivering two workshops that focus on maximising social value – come and join us to learn more and share your experiences. And, if you want to be involved in shaping the direction of things, you can always join our organisation as a member – become involved in our governance, technical developments, or just as a supporter of a mission that wants to change the way the world accounts for value.