3 top tips to keep you learning on your social value journey

Change is happening all around us. This is especially true when it comes to social value. With organisations and industries becoming more aware of what social value is and why it’s important, we’ve seen huge changes in how it’s monitored and reported. As we make progress towards global goals like ending poverty, reducing inequalities, or mitigating climate change, our targets evolve as we move on to the next phase of progress.

In short, there’s no standing still. And nor should we want there to be. Large-scale social and environmental change doesn’t happen by finding something that works and sticking with it. It happens by constantly pushing for more and looking for areas to improve. And this should be reflected in how you approach social value daily.

The goalposts are constantly changing. Committing to social value is, in a sense, signing up to not have all the answers. It’s a vow to keep refining and altering your initiatives, systems, and approach to maximise the impact you’re able to have.

So how do you hold yourself accountable for learning and growing on your journey? Here are three of our top tips for keeping that momentum going…

Ditch the annual reports for regular data analysis

The truth is that compiling an annual social value report might have been enough 10 years ago. Back when social value was a ‘nice-to-have’ for businesses. But that isn’t the case anymore.

To make the most accurate decisions and allocate resources with confidence, you want to monitor and analyse your impact constantly.

Today, social value can be make or break when it comes to winning contracts, customers, making sales, or recruiting top talent. By investing in real-time data capture and reporting, you show customers, buyers, and staff that you’re making a consistent effort to be better, not just fulfilling a yearly requirement.

It will also provide peace of mind that your time and resources are going to the right initiatives and services. A report from last December might tell you how your apprentice scheme was performing at that moment in time. But a lot will have changed since then. And you don’t want to be making critical decisions about the future of the initiative based on out-of-date information.

Collect and publish all data

It would be great if every initiative performed exactly as we expected it to. But we all know this isn’t how it usually goes. Social value requires some trial and error. And we don’t always get it right. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore or hide data that doesn’t align with our objectives.

You might invest in an initiative you’re sure will change beneficiaries’ lives, only to find their priorities are different than you expected. Or you might dive headfirst into a new service, yet soon realise you don’t have the resources or capacity to maintain it for long. While shouting from the rooftops about a service you’ve had to put on ice doesn’t exactly sound ideal, it will be valuable. We promise.

To hold yourself accountable for constant growth and development, collect and publish all data relating to your social value efforts. The positive, negative, intended, and unintended consequences will all be useful. They’ll give you the opportunity to share your journey, lessons, and commitment to doing better each day.

When it comes to sharing your reports and success stories, you want the full narrative of how you got from point A to point B. Sometimes, that’ll involve moving backwards before you move forward. It’s how you build trust and invite others onto the journey with you.

Learn to embrace when things go ‘wrong’

On a similar note, we encourage you to reframe you and your team’s perspective of when things go ‘wrong’. We use that word lightly. Because if an underperforming initiative brings you one step closer to achieving significant and long-term results, has it really gone wrong?

To keep levelling up your impact, you want to pay as much attention to what doesn’t work as what does.

For every decision or initiative that doesn’t go to plan, get curious about why it played out the way it did and how you’re going to improve it next time. Use it as an opportunity to go back to the drawing board and refine your approach. As you invest more time and resources into your organisation’s social value, instances like these could occur more frequently. So the sooner you can shift them into being positive and an opportunity for growth the better!

Gone are the days when social value was a tick-box exercise you completed just to keep your customers or buyers happy. To make a tangible difference to your local community, industry, or the planet, you need to keep improving and scaling your approach.

At Impact, we can help. We’re a framework-independent social value platform that makes it easy to capture qualitative and quantitative data and build out a full understanding of your efforts and initiatives. To find out more, schedule a demo or get in touch with the team on 0161 532 4752.