Why you need to shift to a qualitative mindset for your social value data

Does this sound familiar? In business, we can have this tendency to do things a certain way because that’s always how we’ve done them. We can’t reinvent the wheel constantly. So we carry on, even if that way isn’t as efficient as it could be. There aren’t enough hours in the day to deal with every aspect of your operations that aren’t where you’d love them to be.

So while we might want our social value efforts to be industry-leading, there are also sales, marketing, customer service, business development, and more to worry about. Logging all that data might take you longer than it should, but at least it’s getting done. And the framework you’re using might be an awkward fit, but at least you have something.

It’s all too easy to fall into this mindset. But when we do, we let so much quality slip through the net. What you’re doing now might be working, but here’s why we think reapproaching your efforts is the right move.

To give yourself better clarity

Part of the problem with measuring and reporting on your social value data is, once it’s in the system, then what? Sure, you might be able to track on a chart that your numbers trend up, but does that mean success? Is it a long-term sustainable impact? Analysis is a key component of the process, but you can’t do that if you can’t understand how your actions are affecting your beneficiaries.

By reapproaching the issue, you can come at it from the angle of how can I bring clarity to my reporting?

It can be as simple as expanding your efforts to include quantitative and qualitative information that address overall satisfaction with your efforts or show what’s happened to your beneficiaries as a result of the action or intervention. With this data, you can see what people actually think about your initiatives and tweak from there. For example, maybe you have a volunteering program where staff can help with local homelessness. You can track data such as hours volunteered, areas assisted – you get the idea.

Through surveying, you could show a link between an increase in hours and satisfaction with your service. Or you may notice that, despite rising volunteer hours, a certain region isn’t as happy with the service. This gives you clarity on where you could focus your attention going forward.

To refocus on what’s important

This ties into our next point: when you focus on making the numbers go up, it becomes a box-ticking exercise rather than actually achieving social value. you can forget why you were doing these initiatives in the first place. Data is a wonderful thing, but when we only pay attention to the numbers, we miss what matters to wellbeing and happier, healthier lives.

And if this isn’t your focus, how can you know what will generate the greatest return on your investment? By reframing your approach, you can look at not just the numbers, but the evidence behind them and what that means for your cause.

Going back to the example of tackling homelessness, as great as those volunteering hours are, and as proud as you’ll be when your team puts in the effort, it’s not simply about that.

There are real people at the heart of everything you do. Don’t forget to make them a part of the journey.

Shift your approach to add more storytelling to your social value efforts. Draw the stories out that are taking place on the ground, from the point of view of the beneficiaries. Doing so enriches your reporting, making for a much more impactful message when you convey them to stakeholders. If you ever need to justify your investments, you’ll have not just the numbers, but also the heart to back them up.

To make work easier for yourself

Of course, in a perfect world, this would be so easy. But it isn’t. Measuring your efforts, crunching the numbers, creating the reports – it’s a tiring, tedious process. Especially if you use a spreadsheet for everything. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

You don’t have to rely on manual processes for any of this. Reapproach what social value data means for you. Why have a select group of people responsible for data collection when that can be spread across the team? Why analyse the data yourself when this can be automated?

Make it faster, more economical, and less resource-intensive.

Even if you’ve moved beyond spreadsheets, could you still be making life harder for yourself? Are you using one streamlined platform or a collection of disconnected systems? Are you collecting data as you go or in one inconvenient lump at the end of a project?

There’s always a smarter way of working, and your social value is no different. If you continue as you already are, you’re going to make a difference – of course you are. But in a way that could be slower, harder, and more confusing than it needs to be. So why not take a step back, evaluate your approach, and ask yourself if you could be something else.

Impact is an intelligent, intuitive tool for capturing, evaluating, and reporting on all things social value, sustainability, and ESG. Putting the process on autopilot, we’re easy to use and make it simple to capture the impact of your supply chain. To find out more, schedule a demo or get in touch with the team on 0161 532 4752.