Circular for April 2012

List of Contents


News and Developments

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Contacts & Coordinators

Social Audit Network April 2012

2012 SAN Gathering

Only 3 weeks to go until the SAN Gathering Social Impact in Practice

Places are going fast for the 2012 SAN Gathering, which will be hosted by the Women's Organisation in Liverpool on 20th April 2012, in their new building at 54 St James Street, with a programme that will include:

Keynote speeches from Luciana Berger MP and Caroline Mason (Chief Operating Officer at Big Society Capital)

World cafe conversations - Accelerated thinking conversations facilitated by Liz Brooks-Allen of The Connectives on

  • Measuring or accounting for social value?
  • Public procurement: the value of social impact information
  • Power within communities where does the accountability lie?
  • Social change beyond the economic

Participatory Workshops - Practical sessions led by SAN supporters & directors, considering

  • Consultation tools and techniques innovative methodologies
  • Analysing information from social reports
  • Financialisation and social accounting
  • Audit as part of performance management - an auditors tale
  • Starting small: social accounting and audit for all

The first SAN Memorial Lecture the first of our annual lectures to explore some of the key trends affecting social impact and the social enterprise sector delivered by Dr Adam Richards, Liverpool John Moores University. Our lectures are dedicated to SAN founding members and Chairs John Pearce and Mike Swain in recognition of their outstanding contribution on the social accounting and audit landscape that both sadly died during 2011.

For more information and to download a booking form

On the day, participants will be able to choose one of the five workshops to attend. Each are individually tailored to tackle a particular issue around social value and reporting in a participatory way. For example, workshop 5 will be delivered by Mary McGarry & Iftikar Karim, who advise that:

This practical workshop is designed for staff, trustees and volunteers who work with social enterprises or other organisations to encourage them to consider preparing social accounts for the first time. It will be a whistle stop tour of social accounting which will help you better understand how straight forward social accounting can be -
Participants will learn the principles of social accounting, understand how they can build on what they do already, begin to collect relevant data and develop a framework to use in the process.

The session will be facilitated (eg group work, participation in consultation tools, etc)

  • what we already do exercise
  • introduction to principles SAA
  • why we do social accounting
  • Mission, Values, Objectives, Activities exercise
  • participants investigate how the activities/services their organisation provides are aimed to fulfill the objectives
  • who are your stakeholders
  • methods of consultation
  • take away an exercise to develop a social accounting plan

The workshop will be participative and will provide a chance for participants to share ideas and experiences.

Our gathering will bring together people a wide range of perspectives on this topic, all able to share thinking and learning with participants. Book your place now and you can also receive a discount on Prove and improve  Guide to Social Accounting and Audit.

This edition of our newsletter contains updates from across the UK, as well as a series of updates on how social value measurement is the topic of conversation across the social economy and beyond.

Social accountants and auditors will recognize that New Philanthropy capital's Principles of Good Impact Reporting concur with the key principles outlined in the SAN Guide Prove, Improve and Account. SAN Directors are meeting shortly with New Philanthropy Capital to discuss SAN involvement in the Inspiring Impact Programme.

Our article 'A provider perspective to the Social Value Act, an opportunity to exhibit third sector values or yet more paperwork?' provides a view from the social economy of the Public Services (Social Value) Act, which is now law, with recommendations to the public sector about how they act on the new legislation.

With so many tools out there to measure social value, it is worth remembering that social accounting and audit can, but does not necessarily reduce everything to financial figures. It is important to retain some sense of qualitative change that is not reduced to a financial bottom line. What we need is social reporting that highlights changes happening as a result of the work of social economy organisations.



SAN gathering update

SAN gathering update

It has been confirmed that Liverpool John Moores University Business School have purchased 20 places at the gathering for final year & masters students who are completing a social enterprise module. Many of the students are from Liverpool and all are familiar with The Women's Organisation, having just completed SROI assessments. A further 8 places have been offered to local social economy organisations who want to learn more about social accounting and audit.

There are still some places left for the gathering, and anyone interested in applying for a bursary should contact the SAN office on 01902 877565.

We look forward to seeing you on 20th April for what promises to be lively debate about social impact in practice.

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A provider perspective to the Social Value Act – an opportunity to exhibit third sector values or yet more paperwork?

I have followed progress of Chris White MP’s Public Services White Paper with interest and growing excitement – at last, a piece of legislation which gives a mandate to social accounting... As a director of the Social Audit Network (SAN), an international organisation which promotes the practice of social accounting and audit, this is an important step forward.

Social accounting and audit is a framework for the capture and reporting of social value, and the SAN format, with its register of Social Auditors to independently verify the social value, has been around in its current format for over 10 years. However, in practice social accounting has operated for many years only at a grass roots level with little recognition outside of the social enterprise sector. Furthermore, despite the efforts of colleagues in SROI UK to bring another tool: social return on investment (SROI), to a wider audience, uptake of this by third sector providers has in my experience also been limited.

So now here’s the ‘opportunity’ for the third sector! The new Act states that public authorities must consider:

‘(a) how what is proposed to be procured might improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of the relevant area, and

(b) how, in conducting the process of procurement, it might act with a view to securing that improvement.’
..and the third sector (social enterprise, charity, voluntary and community sector) is ‘values driven’ – existing to improve economic, social and environmental well-being. Might this create a ‘level playing field’ for the third sector to get credit in tendering procedures for this approach? Opportunities surely exist for third sector organizations to tell the full story of their work, the outcomes that they achieve and the way that they do it?

But, could this also be a threat to some third sector providers? Social accounting and social return on investment are two of many tools available to ‘measure’ and report on social value. As discussed above, not many providers could report currently in an accurate and robust manner on their social value. There’s a cost involved and capacity issues in terms of skills and time to do this. Will it just add more paperwork to the procurement process?

With the increase in the volume of challenges to their contract awards, public authorities are developing ever more complex procurement arrangements in a bid to be fair and equitable to all. The Social Value Act will present yet another area for assessment during procurement – and one which does not necessarily involve comparison of numbers or financial accounts.

Matthew Jackson in his recent article for New Start said: ‘I would urge both central and local government, and the wider public sector, to ensure that the Social Value Act is different, and takes full advantage of the opportunity it presents.’

SAN would add a further plea – that public authorities do this in a way which means that social value can be both embedded within the ethos of their commissioning and clear in contract documentation. We suggest the following recommendations of public service commissioners:

  • Don’t ask for any one specific tool to be used – instead evaluate social value submissions on the basis of relevance, robustness, quality and value added...
  • Be clear of what social, environmental and economic value outcomes you expect – both in the direct delivery of a contract, and in ‘added value’ from the way that a contract is delivered
  • Engage in supplier development in this area – provide support and guidance for all suppliers with how best to report social value, what sort of things could be included and how this ‘fits’ within the procurement arrangements of a particular commissioner

SAN is already working with one local authority to develop its commissioning and procurement arrangements to take advantage of the Social Value Act. Salford City Council is reviewing corporate policy to draft a set of social value outcomes which it hopes can be achieved through its commissioning. Although procurement documentation has for some time included some social value questions particularly around local economic factors, this is being further developed to cover social, environmental as well as economic values. The Council has also started to engage with the third sector and other providers, raising awareness of the Social Value Act.

For the third sector, this can be an opportunity, but only if it is prepared to include some form of evaluation of social, environmental and economic value as part of its business as usual. Seize opportunities which are available to find out more. Take up available collaboration and partnership opportunities. Talk to your local authority and find out what they are doing in response to the Social Value Act. Work together and share the learning....

The Social Audit Network is holding a gathering in Liverpool on 20th April for everyone who might be interested in learning more about some of the issues outlined in this article, and discussing the issues with others from the third, public and private sectors. For more information, go to SAN Conference 2012

Anne Lythgoe Director, Social Audit Network

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News and Developments

Recent developments

In the hope that it might be of interest to others within the Social Audit Network, the Principles of Good Impact Reporting for charities and social enterprises has been launched by ACEVO, CFG and NPC. The principles give organisations of all sizes a clear set of guidance on how to communicate their impact and what to communicate. The principles are outlined in ëPrinciples into Practice: How charities and social enterprises communicate impact, which uses case studies and expert articles to explore the themes and ideas emerging from the principles.

Tris Lumley, one of the reports authors, says: 'Our aim is that charities and social enterprises are able to tell a compelling story about the difference they make. By focusing on simple yet powerful questions about how they make a difference, we hope organisations can use the principles to inform and inspire their staff, volunteers, boards, funders and the people they help.'

Social accountants and auditors will recognize that the principles concur with the key principles outlined in the SAN Guide Prove, Improve and Account. SAN Directors are meeting shortly with New Philanthropy Capital to discuss SAN involvement in the Inspiring Impact Programme.

With so many tools out there to measure social value, it is worth remembering that social accounting and audit can, but does not necessarily reduce everything to financial figures. It is important to retain some sense of qualitative change that is not reduced to a financial bottom line. †What we need is social reporting that highlights changes happening as a result of the work of social economy organisations.

In north-west England, Neighbourhoods North West organized an event entitled 'Policy Forum: Social Values and Impact'. This was opened with information provided by SAN member Richard Dickins, director of a social enterprise called 'Make It Happen' who have acted as a social enterprise mentor for Social Enterprise North West and are a Council Member for Social Enterprise UK and SROI Network. †Dave Sedman (Great Places Housing Group) provided a case study on how they have used the Social Accounting and Auditing (SAN) method to measure the social value gained at their young people's foyer in Blackpool. Finally participants undertook an exercise looking at how to generate a Social Pledge for various stakeholders within our own work areas.

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How long does it take/can you afford not to do it?

Recent experience in the Sheffield area has shown that an organisation wishing to prepare social accounts for the first time could benefit from the support of an experienced social auditor. Many organisations rely heavily on part-time staff and volunteers to run their regular activities and services, leaving very little capacity for preparing accounts.

Both Sheffield Mencap & Gateway and Star Enterprise Work & Play were visited by Mary McGarry, SAN Yorks & Humber Co-ordinator, about once a fortnight for six months while they completed their 2010-11 social accounts. Senior staff worked with Mary each time she came, and they emailed relevant information to her between visits. Mary was able to undertake these short visits on an expenses only basis. Second sets of social accounts will be prepared by staff at the organisations who now understand the process and what is required, so are all recording relevant qualitative and quantitative data.

An alternative way of supporting a number of organisations is to form a cluster so that the cost of buying in the necessary support can be spread between them. Two or three people from each organisation can expect to complete a set of accounts after 12 or 14 half day meetings, if they can put in a similar amount of time back at their work places. Rotating the venue between the participating organisations will also reduce expenses.

If you are in the Yorkshire and Humber area and would like a mentor to support your organisation through the social accounting process, contact Mary at

For other regions, please see the regional co-ordinator section at the bottom of this newsletter for the contact details of someone who can advise whatís going on in your area.

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SAN along with CBS Network had an exhibitions stall at the recent Social Enterprise Exchange in Glasgow on 27th March. This exchange event attracted over 1,100 delegates and was reputed to be the largest of its kind in the world. During this event SAN representatives networked with other like-minded, international organisations.

The Social Impact Group (SIG) which is currently supported by SAN in Scotland, ran four informative and open meetings in 2011 organised by Sue Sadler. SIG is planning a further four meetings in 2012 and it is likely that the first one will be in April and may be a presentation by Jenny Inglis from SROI UK on her recent work on procurement and social value. For more information

The Social Enterprise Academy is holding a Measuring Social Impact workshop as part of Just Enterprise on 24th April in Edinburgh. For further details contact

SAN in Scotland is working with Assist Social Capital to run workshops on social accounting and audit and social capital. The first will be in Glasgow on 27th April. Contact for further information.

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Membership and the AGM

This is a reminder that SAN membership fees are due on 1st April. The cost of ordinary membership is just £60 per member or per organisation. Paid up members are entitled to a £20 reduction for attending the Annual SAN Gathering, a day-long networking event, with guest speakers and workshops which this year is focusing on Social Impact in Practice. Other benefits of membership include being able to stand for election to the Board of Directors, to nominate other candidates and to vote at the Annual General Meeting. The 2012 AGM is being held at 54 St James' Street, Liverpool at 4.45 pm on Friday 20th April, following the gathering.

Qualified Social Auditors wishing to remain on the SAN approved list are urged to make their annual return and pay the registration fee of £100 as soon as possible after 1st April. The list of auditors on the SAN website will then be updated so that organisations can contact auditors for assistance in preparing or verifying their social accounts.
Invoices will be issued shortly.


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Contacts and Coordinators

North East England

Julie Gowland

South East

Barbara Beaton

South Central England

Dave Furze

North West England

Liz Brooks Allen and Anne Lythgoe

West Midlands and East Midlands

Iftikar Karim (until June 2016) and Sean Smith

Yorkshire and Humber

Bernie Speight

South West England

Helen Vines

Northern Ireland

Peter MacCafferty