"An independent evaluation has found that for every £1 invested in our programmes, we create £8.44 value. The figure has been found by a Social Return On Investment (SROI) evaluation, taking into account the ‘change’ experienced by the participants and professionals who come into contact with our work. The independent analysis was commissioned to give further credibility to our programmes, allowing us to demonstrate impact using both internal, national and independent measures of success.
To reach the figure, an independent assessor sought the views and experiences of a broad range of stakeholders, from ex-offenders and prison and probation professionals to grassroots community groups. Alasdair Jackson, Chief Executive of the Charity & Social Enterprise, said:
“Although the most important part of our work will always be positively impacting and changing lives, demonstrating that impact is also important. It’s a big part of earning and maintaining trust. Commissioning the SROI Evaluation was part of this, as well as an opportunity to really hear and learn from our stakeholders. The evaluation process was robust – needing investment of time, resource and then patience – but definitely worthwhile. We’re really proud of the outcome – both the high SROI value and the open, uplifting feedback from stakeholders as well as the final certification from Social Value International.”
What is Social Return On Investment?
Social Return On Investment (SROI) seeks to understand and account for change, embracing a concept of value beyond just financial value. It is a way of quantifying the relative importance people place on the change they experience as a result of participation in a programme or activity. While it uses money as a proxy – since money is a familiar unit for conveying value – SROI is a not a cost benefit analysis. It does not analyse cost savings or fiscal benefits. SROI looks at the value of change for people, seeking out their individual voices to demonstrate the true value of their experience.By identifying and gauging the value of outcomes experienced, the evaluation ascribes value using monetary values to the overall output. This was calculated at £8.44 for every £1 invested, based on the millions of pounds of value created through outcomes like improved mental health, reduced reoffending or improved ability to provide food or avoid food waste. Set against the significant annual investment that goes into our operations, this gives the final return on investment.
The evaluation was completed in 2021 by Nicola Lynch, an independent consultant to the voluntary, charitable and social enterprise (VCSE) sectors. She is the National Lead on Civil Society for Social Value UK and an Associate Practitioner with Social Value International.
The final report has now been certified by Social Value International, confirming robustness of the evaluation and use of the key principles of social value have been followed.
Assessor Nicola Lynch added: “A huge thank you to the team at Recycling Lives and all the people who spoke so movingly and openly to me – both in person and via every digital method we could muster. Your stories of change were a privilege to hear and to hold.”
To read the report in full, click here.