Sport and recreation delivers huge social value, but where do you start when you want to measure it?

Following the HACT Social Value workshop last week, Andrew can Doorn, Deputy Chief Executive of HACT, has blogged about how organisations can look to measure and demonstrate their social impact.

The nation has just witnessed one of the best ever results for Team GB and ParalympicGB at the Olympic and Paralympic Games but, away from the elite achievement, we were also able to reflect on how sport is transforming the lives of people and communities across the globe. For example, the BBC, during its Olympic coverage, featured communities in Rio and the UK to demonstrate the value of sport in a social context.

Sport and recreation organisations deliver impact every day in communities up and down the country. Whether, it’s an army of volunteers helping a local community or a specific programme targeted at a minority group, the activities provided by the sector bring people together and help to improve wellbeing. So how can you, in your organisation, measure the social impact in a robust, straight forward and cost effective way?

At HACT, a national innovation agency in social housing, we have been working over the past three years with housing associations to develop a way of measuring social value across the breadth of their activity in communities.

In partnership with leading wellbeing and social value econometrician Daniel Fujiwara, we have developed the Social Value Bank (SVB). The Social Value Bank is the largest set of methodologically consistent social impact metrics currently available. By researching large national datasets like the British Household Panel Survey and Understanding Society, we can understand how wellbeing changes, with different life circumstances and then monetise it to create an economic value. We call this Wellbeing Valuation.

We teamed up with the Sport and Recreation Alliance to deliver a workshop for its members on Tuesday 27 September, to help demonstrate how the Social Value Bank can be used to better understand the social impact your organisation delivers. The workshop will also explain how the approach can be used to help evidence how your organisation is delivering against the objectives of the Sport England strategy. 

The Social Value Bank and the Wellbeing Valuation can be used to better understand the impact of projects, services and organisations that create social change outside of the market and therefore do not have to have a conventional economic value.

Through straightforward approaches to collecting data and understanding outcomes, we have turned an often complex approach to evidence into something that is both simple and robust.

In developing our approach, we’ve looked to focus on three key elements:

  • A single and coherent methodological approach to the generation of social value proxies
  • A light-weight, but insight rich framework for modelling and comparing intended impacts
  • The ability to accommodate and sit alongside more in depth SROI investigations where that is appropriate.
  • A single and coherent methodological approach to valuation.

At HACT, one challenge we have been seeking to address is how to develop a cost efficient approach to social value measurement which can work at a community project level through to a national organisation. To give you an indication of the social housing sector, an association (not-for-profit landlords, providing 1 in 8 homes in England and Wales) might typically invest several hundred thousand pounds a year in support of activities. These can range from community gardening to youth sports or employability initiatives and it is important for the housing association to demonstrate that the choice of investment is through an understanding of the social impact.

Alongside the SVB we have produced a range of tools, both free and paid for, that can help an organisation get started in measuring social impact. The Value Calculator is free to download and by selecting the outcomes your organisation is delivering and inputting in some basic details about the people who benefit, the calculator will begin to describe the social value your organisation is having.