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Social Return on Investment Analysis

Measuring the Impact of Social Investment

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This book introduces and explains how to conduct a Social Return on Investment (SROI) analysis. It discusses the various advantages and disadvantages of different research strategies and designs, and explores the different ways in which SROI analysis results can be used for communication, outreach, and strategic decision-making. It provides insights into how and to what extent SROI analyses can help to meet different expectations, and presents different social impact research designs and methods. It presents an analytical framework for the identification of a proper SROI analysis, and shows readers how to establish an impact model, introducing a stakeholder-based approach.     


Volker Then is Founding Director and Executive Director of the Centre for Social Investment at Heidelberg University, Germany.

Christian Schober is Head of the Competence Center for Nonprofit Organizations and Social Entrepreneurship at Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria.

Olivia Rauscher is Head of Social Impact Analysis and Senior Researcher at the Competence Center for Nonprofit Organizations and Social Entrepreneurship at Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria.

Konstantin Kehl is Lecturer at the Institute of Management and Social Policy, ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland.

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  • Preface. 1

    Chapters. 3

    Contents. 4

    List of figures. 9

    List of tables. 10

    1       Introduction: What is an SROI analysis? How does it relate to other forms of analysis? Why are impacts key?  11

    1.1.1      Impacts above everything else? The trend towards impact measurement and analysis. 13

    1.1.2      What do we want to contribute with this book? Overview of the approach. 16

    1.1.3      How should you read the book?. 17

    1.2         How does SROI analysis compare to other methods of impact measurement and analysis? A comprehensive approach  17

    1.2.1      SROI analysis in a nutshell. A summary. 18

    1.2.2      Social impact measurement vs. social impact analysis. Where should SROI be positioned?. 20

    1.2.3      How is SROI analysis distinguished from other methods of (economic) impact analysis or social impact measurement?  23

    1.2.4      How is SROI analysis conceptually situated as relates to other methods? A mental and analytical framework with a social sciences focus. 27

    1.3         Is there only one form of SROI analysis? Proposed typology. 30

    1.4         SROI: the way to measure impact 32

    2       What interests do organisations pursue with an impact analysis? A guide. 34

    2.1         Introduction: Why impact measurement?. 35

    2.2         How does interest in an SROI analysis emerge?. 36

    2.2.1      Communication to the outside. 36

    2.2.2      The trend toward impact measurement 38

    2.2.3      The strategic interests of an organisation. 40

    2.3         The joint learning process. 43

    2.4         What application of the SROI methodology is intended?. 43

    2.4.1      Prospective estimation of the potential for social value added. 43

    2.4.2      Formative evaluation of success or prospects for success. 44

    2.4.3      Summative analysis of the social value added actually achieved. 45

    2.5         Who should perform the analysis?. 45

    2.6         Conclusion. 49

    3       SROI in the context of policy and governance developments. 50

    3.1         Social investment and impact: new policy styles, governance tools, and their implications. 50

    3.1.1      From welfare to social investment 51

    3.1.2      Challenges for impact measurement and society. 53

    3.2         SROI and European policy developments. 55

    3.2.1      Impact measurement between specific policy initiatives and market building. 56

    3.2.2      Impact measurement and standardisation: process standards. 58

    3.3         Impact measurement and public policy: conclusion. 60

    4       How are impacts identified? The impact model 62

    4.1         Impact model – Where does it come from and for what purpose? The introduction. 63

    4.1.1      For what purpose is the impact model necessary?. 63

    4.1.2      Where does the impact model come from?. 63

    4.2         Impact model: What is it?. 64

    4.2.1      Conditions: context, target group specifics, inputs (resources), structure. 66

    4.2.2      Plan: concept 66

    4.2.3      Implementation: process/activities. 67

    4.2.4      Outputs. 67

    4.2.5      Outcome: impacts. 68

    4.3         What levels of impact measurement can be distinguished?. 68

    4.4         What does deadweight mean?. 70

    4.5         Theory of change or impact model? What is the difference?. 71

    4.6         What role do the stakeholders play?. 72

    4.7         Who are the relevant stakeholders and how are their impacts identified?. 74

    4.8         Summary. 76

    5       How can impact dimensions be operationalised?. 78

    5.1         What do impact models achieve for the goals of projects and organisations?. 78

    5.1.1      Conceptualising and modelling impact through stakeholder dialogues. 78

    5.1.2      Selecting dimensions, making decisions, and proving impact 79

    5.2         What basic building blocks do all impact models have in common?. 81

    5.2.1      Functions and roles of non-profit and social purpose organisations. 81

    5.2.2      The special character of the political and environmental dimension. 82

    5.2.3      Physiological and psychological effects. 85

    5.3         The complexity of returns: differentiating the levels of impact 85

    5.3.1      The bull’s eye of system innovation. 85

    5.3.2      Levels of impact: enriching and relating the functional dimensions. 87

    5.3.3      Priorities and “nice to have’s”. 88

    5.4         An integrated “impact construction kit” and paths to comparability. 90

    5.4.1      Currencies and exchange rates of different social interventions. 91

    5.4.2      Benchmarks beyond money and methodological challenges. 92

    5.5         Where are the limits of SROI?. 95

    6       How can impacts be gathered? Study design and empirical execution. 97

    6.1         Comprehending impacts: What and how do we want to study?. 97

    6.1.1      To what level of breadth and depth should impacts be considered?. 98

    6.1.2      What is the focus of the study?. 99

    6.1.3      To what extent must the analysis satisfy scientific criteria (rigor vs. relevance)?. 101

    6.2         How do I proceed specifically? Various research approaches. 103

    6.2.1      Overview of various research paradigmas, designs and methods. 103

    6.2.2      Quantitative paradigm: experimental designs. 106

    6.2.3      Quantitative paradigm: non-experimental designs. 107

    6.2.4      Quantitative empirical methods. 110

    6.2.5      Qualitative paradigm.. 113

    6.2.6      Qualitative empirical methods. 114

    6.2.7      Analysis supported by secondary data. 117

    6.3         How do you select a study design? A guide. 121

    6.3.1      Clarifying basic questions. 121

    6.3.2      The SROI options matrix as a decision aid. 122

    6.3.3      Taking account of the stakeholders’ specific characteristics and possibilities to access the field. 125

    6.3.4      Reviewing whether it is possible to use an evidence-based approach. 125

    6.4         Summary. 126

    7       Can the presumed impacts be proven? Analysis from a quantitative point of view.. 128

    7.1         How is causality dealt with? The (correct) attribution of impacts. 128

    7.2         What possibilities and limits do the basic methods have in the research process?. 129

    7.2.1      Non-experimental design (longitudinal, cross-sectional) 129

    7.2.2      Quasi-experimental design (control-group comparisons) 130

    7.2.3      Experimental design (randomised controlled trials) 131

    7.2.4      Design-independent limits on generalisability. 131

    7.3         Which distortions in data collection demand attention?. 132

    7.4         How are results quantified? Impact dimensions, diversity of methods and variables. 135

    7.5         What is the explanatory power of SROI dimensions?. 138

    7.6         Well-being indexes as an alternative quantitative portrayal of societal or local effects?. 139

    7.7         What are the limits of quantitative methods?. 140

    8       How can impacts be monetised?. 142

    8.1         Why should impacts be monetised?. 143

    8.2         Is it not sufficient to use market prices?. 143

    8.3         Can valuation take place without units of money? Alternative valuation methods. 145

    8.4         How can we monetise? Methods for monetising non-market goods. 147

    8.4.1      Cost-based monetisation. 148

    8.4.2      Monetisation on the basis of stated preference approaches. 153

    8.4.3      Monetisation on the basis of revealed preference approaches. 159

    8.4.4      Summarising assessment of the preference-based methods of monetisation. 164

    8.4.5      Which approaches exist beyond costs and preferences?. 164

    8.5         Are the right things being monetised in the first place? Caution when monetising services. 169

    8.6         When is which monetisation method suitable?. 170

    8.7         Conclusion with respect to SROI analysis and practical applicability in projects. 174

    9       Which purposes can social impact analyses support? An overview of applications for results of SROI analyses  176

    9.1         Which options exist for using SROI results? An overview.. 176

    9.1.1      Communication (target group: the public) 177

    9.1.2      Seeking investors/fundraising (target group: funders) 177

    9.1.3      Strategy development and organisational development (target group: the organisation itself) 178

    9.1.4      Strategic cooperation and scaling (target group: sector/industry/field of impact) 179

    9.1.5      Evidence-based and impact-oriented controlling (target group: the organisation itself) 180

    9.2         How are impact analyses linked to strategy development and organisational development?. 180

    9.2.1      Classifying strategic goals. 180

    9.2.2      SROI analyses for social impact investing or impact bond agreements. 181

    9.2.3      Organisational development as a necessary component 182

    9.3         How can impact measurement be used for political advocacy?. 183

    9.3.1      How does successful advocacy work?. 184

    9.3.2      The contribution of impact measurement 185

    9.4         How can impact measurement be used as a controlling tool? A comprehensive impact-oriented management model 186

    9.5         Summary. 193

    10     How have SROI analyses been performed in practice? Four selected case studies. 195

    10.1       Introduction. 195

    10.2       Case study: SROI analysis of mobile care and support services in Vienna. 197

    10.2.1        Introduction. 197

    10.2.2        Impact chain and identification of impacts. 198

    10.2.3        Quantification of impacts. 199

    10.2.4        Monetising impacts. 201

    10.2.5        Result of the analysis. 204

    10.3       Case Study: SROI analysis of multigenerational co-housing. 205

    10.3.1        Impact model 206

    10.3.2        Identifying impacts. 207

    10.3.3        Quantifying impacts. 208

    10.3.4        Monetising impacts. 209

    10.3.5        Results of the analysis. 210

    10.4       Case Study: SROI analysis of a Women in Development programme in Ethiopia. 211

    10.4.1        Introduction. 211

    10.4.2        Impact model and identification of outcomes. 212

    10.4.3        Quantification of outcomes. 213

    10.4.4        Monetisation of outcomes. 214

    10.4.5        Results of the analysis. 216

    10.5       Case Study: SROI analysis of the Norwegian Offshore & Drilling Engineering network (NODE) 217

    10.5.1        Introduction. 217

    10.5.2        Impact model 218

    10.5.3        Identification of impact 219

    10.5.4        Quantifying impact 220

    10.5.5        Monetising impact 222

    10.5.6        Results of the analysis. 223

    10.6       Summary. 224

    11     What does an organisation need to conduct a sound SROI analysis?. 226

    11.1       Introduction: from the perspective of the organisation. 226

    11.2       Awareness and involvement of stakeholders. 227

    11.3       Gathering data. 228

    11.4       Organisational capacity. 229

    11.5       Willingness to participate in individual/organisational learning. 230

    11.6       Understanding the analysis. 231

    11.7       Practical tips. 232

    11.8       Summary. 234

    12     SROI revisited: summary and outlook. 236

    12.1       What have we learned? A review.. 236

    12.1.1        The book shows the various facets of the analytical path. 236

    12.1.2        An SROI analysis is rooted in social science tradition. 237

    12.1.3        SROI analysis always includes a strategic dimension. 241

    12.2       What remains to be done? The prospects. 242

    Bibliography. 245

    The Authors  263

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Einband gebundene Ausgabe
Seitenzahl 406
Erscheinungsdatum 22.03.2018
Sprache Englisch
ISBN 978-3-319-71400-4
Reihe Palgrave Studies in Impact Finance
Verlag Springer
Maße (L/B/H) 21,6/15,1/3,2 cm
Gewicht 698 g
Originaltitel Praxishandbuch Social Return on Investment
Abbildungen 43 schwarz-weiße Abbildungen, Bibliographie
Auflage 1st ed. 2017
Buch (gebundene Ausgabe, Englisch)
Buch (gebundene Ausgabe, Englisch)
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