4 questions to shape your social value strategy

As your organisation moves further along its social value journey, it’s normal to have periods where you lose your way. Your priorities become fuzzy. You might lose touch with why you’re doing certain things. Or you may become trapped in ‘business as usual’ mode, even though a lot of the processes and systems you use might not be fit for purpose anymore.

Social value is something that’s changed a lot over the past decade. And it’ll keep changing, too. So you’re going to have to stay agile, constantly adjusting your approach to tackle any new challenges thrown your way. And this is where you’ll need a clear, up-to-date social value strategy to fall back on. Something that tells you exactly where your company wants to go and the change you want to be.

Whether this is your first time putting one together or you’re looking to blow off the dust and update your previous one, it’s brilliant that you’re giving your social value the attention it deserves. And we’ve got four questions to help you create a valuable, long-term impact strategy to underpin your next few years of progress.

What do you care about?

An essential first step is identifying your values and priorities. This way, you have an idea of where you can allocate your time and resources. What impact do you want to have on people and the planet? How do you hope to make a difference to people’s lives? What skills, resources, and opportunities do you have at your disposal? How can you use these to your advantage to unlock even more value for others?

To increase the impact of your efforts, you also want your social value strategy to align with your wider company values and mission.

So, social value aside, what makes your business tick? What gets your staff out of their beds in the morning? If, for example, your company is dedicated to providing the best new housing out there, how can you do this while also boosting your social value? Perhaps it’s in how you support the surrounding community. Or in any quality-of-life features you include as part of a development. Finding a way to link these core business drivers to your social value efforts is a powerful way to boost your chances of success.

What do your external stakeholders need?

Shaping your social value strategy around what your company values most is a powerful way to ensure you see commitments through. But as we just touched on in the last point, you can’t create a successful impact strategy without also considering the needs of the people around you. 

You want a long-term strategy that balances the themes and initiatives you care about with the priorities and concerns of the people you’re setting out to help.

Engage with stakeholders such as customers, local communities, and charities as much as possible. Give them a say in how you spend your time and resources. There’s only so much you can learn from within the four walls of your organisation. So be open to learning from others about what your priorities should be. The initiatives you think will have the greatest impact on local homelessness could be the lowest priority for those actually living on the streets, for example.

What will you achieve?

Once you know what you want to do, it’s time to distil it into tangible, realistic objectives. Set clearly defined goals that allow you to monitor progress and hold yourself accountable.

We’re big fans of the SMART approach to goal-setting. Across all the social value themes and priorities you’ve identified so far, set related goals that are:

  • Specific – Make them well-defined, unambiguous, and relate to your wider company mission and values.
  • Measurable – To achieve these goals, you’re going to have to keep track. So try to make them easy to measure, with clear criteria for assessing progress. 
  • Achievable – They have to be something you can do. Make sure you’re not setting yourself impossible targets.
  • Realistic – In the same vein, don’t set them too high. Be realistic about what you can accomplish with the resources you have.
  • Timely – Create a clear timeline for completing each goal. This way, you’ll be more driven to achieve them. And can quickly identify if you’re falling behind.

Setting SMART goals ensures that everything you do moves you in the right direction. It also helps you to communicate your progress regularly with external stakeholders as your journey gets underway.

How will you track progress?

To achieve your goals in good time, you’re going to want a clear, reliable method for monitoring progress.

Before diving headfirst into your new initiatives, create a roadmap for how you are going to track their progress. What tools will you use to manage and access the social value data itself? Also, who will be responsible for overseeing the data on a daily basis? You want to clearly communicate expectations to staff about the part they’ll play in bringing your strategy to life. 

How – and how often – will you communicate your progress? What is your annual reporting process going to look like? Crucially, you also want to identify how you plan to intervene if you start to fall behind on a target. At what point will you step in, rethink your approach, and make any necessary changes? 

These four questions will provide a strong baseline for your social value strategy. But it’s also worth noting that your approach should be fluid and constantly evolving. As you continue on this journey, you’re going to have to make adjustments to your systems and processes. Which is why it’s so important to revisit your strategy, targets, and reporting often. This way, you can continue having the greatest impact possible.

Impact is an intuitive, framework-independent platform that puts social value on autopilot. Decentralise data capture to ensure you don’t miss anything, complete surveys with ease to give local beneficiaries a voice, and generate engaging reports in a few clicks. To find out more, schedule a demo, or get in touch with the team on 0161 532 4752.