Circular for April 2015

List of Contents


Stop Press

Contacts & Coordinators

Social Audit Network April 2015

Book your ticket now - there’s just a few places left at the 2015 SAN Gathering, which will be held at the Media City campus of Salford University on Friday 17th April 2015


E-mail or call 0151 706 8121

 Social Accounting and Audit

Making it Work for Me 

and My Organisation 

Putting the Theory into Practice

To book your place

e-mail or call 0151 706 8121


The Programme will include:


Welcome from Salford University 

Colin McCallum (Executive Director)


SAA Principles and Practice Presentation by Lisa McMullan, SAN Chair


SAA - What We Know and What We’re Doing 

Introduced and facilitated by Helen Vines (Vinesworks and SAN)


Keynote speaker Hazel Blears MP 

(questions and answers)

Social Accounting Toolbox Challenge

  ‘Finding the most innovative ways of seeking stakeholder views for your social accounting.’ 

Facilitated by Anne Lythgoe, Salford City Council and SAN


Ask your questions of our Expert Panel with: 

Matt Leach - HACT, Verity Timmons – Furniture Resource Centre, 

Alison Page - Salford CVS


Parallel Sessions 1: Your chance to learn about: Approaches and Methods

With: Helen Vines / Sean Smith (SAN), Jeremy Nicholls (SROI Network), Kevin Kane and Morvern McEachern (Salford University Business School) Peter McCafferty (Social Impact Tracker)


Parallel Sessions 2: Your chance to learn about: Social Accounting and Audit in Practice

With: Philip Clegg (Huddersfield University), Elaine Sams (City West Housing), Matthew Lanham (NMC), Julia Brosnan (Dovetail), Anne Lythgoe (SAN)  


Memorial Lecture for John Pearce & Mike Swain 

Alan Tuffs

(Community Futures, Small Town and Rural Development Group)

Summing up - Barbara Beaton (Sandpiper Business and SAN)



Social media details:


Twitter @The_SAN_UK #SAN2015




Salford University will be hosting the Social Audit Network for a one-day Social Auditor Workshop (SAW) Workshop on 28th May 2015. To book your place, contact the SAN Office

Social Auditor Workshops are aimed specifically at those people wishing to become SAN approved Social Auditors. Participants should have sound prior knowledge and/or experience of the social accounting and audit process either by having used it for their own or another organisation or by having attended one of SAN's two-day PIA or similar SAN recognised training. The cost of the Social Auditor Workshop is £150.

54 St James Street in Liverpool, at the Women’s Organisation, will be the venue for SAN’s next Prove, Improve, Account (PIA) training course on 8th and 9th July 2015. See for further details.

Further social accounting training is planned in Salford in August. If you would be interested in attending further social accounting training in the Greater Manchester area, please contact Anne Lythgoe or email the SAN office .

The PIA Workshop aims to introduce participants to the process of social accounting and audit and to explore the resources in the SAN Guide and CD from both doer and facilitator point of view. Learning outcomes include to be able to compile a set of social accounts of one’s own organisation and present these for audit; and to be able to assist others in the process.

Back to top

Other news

NCVO has published a new Social Value and Commissioning Toolkit: 

Produced for the Children’s Partnership, the Toolkit contains useful advice and links for further information.

NCVO has also published a Volunteering Impact Assessment Toolkit.


In 2014 Salford made a pledge to become a ‘social value city’.  Building from an interest which pre-dates the social value act, a partnership which includes the local authority, health sector, and VCSE providers, has worked at three parallel levels – ‘strategic, commissioning/procurement, and provider’ – to create an environment which they hope will maximise social value.

Local action has been boosted by Salford being one of the Department of Health-funded ‘social value in health and care’ programme pilots, delivered by Social Enterprise UK and Institute for Voluntary Action Research.

This work is also supported by a programme of awareness-raising and training for commissioners and procurement staff in partnership with the Social Audit Network. For more information, visit

Back to top

From the SAN archive

SAN holds a memorial lecture for John and another former SAN Chair, Mike Swain, at each annual Gathering. In 2015, this will be given by Alan Tuffs, of the Community Futures, Small Town and Rural Development Group.

In 2005, the late John Pearce published the following article… which you may find is as relevant today as it was 10 years ago.

Mean the mantra: prove and improve

‘Proving and improving’ has become a popular mantra for social enterprises but it can overlook that other essential element of social accounting – accountability to our stakeholders. 

A distinguishing feature of social enterprises is that they have a distinct social purpose in that they are set up to achieve a benefit for the community.

In trying to achieve community benefit, social enterprises impact on people, on the environment and on the (usually local) economy. Social accounting allows social enterprises (and other organisations) to understand what that ‘triple bottom line' impact might be.

In this context ‘economic impact' is quite distinct from ‘financial performance' - whether the enterprise is sustainable, generating sufficient income to survive. Without adequate financial performance, of course, the enterprise's wider social, environmental and economic goals cannot be achieved. Financial performance is reported through the conventional financial accounts common to all businesses, while the social accounts focus on social, environmental and economic performance and impact.

Proving is therefore about demonstrating what the social enterprise has done and explaining the added value of its work. It must be both about proving performance (‘Did we do what we set out to do?') and demonstrating impact (‘What effect has that had?'). In order to prove, it is essential to have clear social objectives and to know what, specifically, we do or are planning to do (our activities) in order to achieve those objectives. Surprisingly, social enterprises often do not articulate their social objectives clearly - instead it is assumed that these are being achieved if the enterprise survives. What's more, they might be phrased quite differently for different audiences.

Reflecting on objectives and clarifying them allows a social enterprise to be certain about just what it is it is trying to achieve. When one New Zealand enterprise went through that process some years ago, it came to the conclusion that its original objectives had been achieved and the only objective left was to keep going for its own sake - so it decided to close down!

Once objectives and activities are clear, it is relatively easy to decide what indicators will be needed to explore performance and impact. A simple way of thinking about indicators is to consider what information you will need in order to write down:

  • some narrative describing what you have done with regard to each of your stated activities;
  • how you can evidence that with facts and figures; and
  • how you can explore with stakeholders what the impact has been on them and on the community in which they live. 

Gathering the facts and figures equates to your social book-keeping system. Seeking the views of stakeholders involves finding appropriate ways of asking the right questions in order to explore the perceived value of what you do - its relevance and whether it leads to your objectives. No matter how ‘social' a social enterprise's objectives are, its social accounts should always report on its environmental practices and its economic impact: that is the social accounting mind-set for the twenty-first century.

Social enterprises are also driven by values - the principles that determine what they do and guide the way they operate. Social accounts are not complete unless the values are articulated clearly (‘This is what we stand for…') and stakeholders given the opportunity to reflect on how the organisation lives up to them.

Proving can therefore be seen as producing a 360-degree picture of what a social enterprise does in order to demonstrate its value to society. Proving is about showing that picture to all stakeholders. Sometimes ‘proving' is seen as a one-way street to those who hold the funds or issue the contracts (often the public sector). In fact, proving should be about showing all stakeholders what has been done and what impact has been achieved, allowing each to make their own judgement and allowing the different values placed by different stakeholders to become apparent.


If proving is about showing others what we have done, improving is about seeing how we can do better. The information gathered for proving is exactly the information needed for improving. That does not mean slavishly following all the suggestions elicited by the proving process (some of which may conflict), but it does mean using the facts and figures and stakeholder feedback to understand if things are up to scratch and, if not, addressing the issues raised. It means not being afraid to acknowledge when activities (and even objectives) are out of date and need to be changed, or even dropped. It means understanding that sometimes what we are paid to do is not actually what we want to do, nor what our customers or clients require. It means understanding that we must first be clear about what we want to do and then, and only then, determine whether what contract-givers or other funding bodies want us to do is sufficiently coincidental to our objectives.

Improving also means that social, environmental and economic performance must be carefully attuned to financial performance. Without financial health and sustainability there will be no social, environmental or economic gain. For a social enterprise, a business plan which looks only at financial considerations, disconnected from social objectives, should be a thing of the past. Instead there should be a ‘social enterprise plan' - a document which demonstrates how the social purpose is to be achieved and how it is to be sustained by commercial activities. Regular social accounts, considered alongside the financial accounts, will give continuous, integrated management information and help the enterprise become more successful - both at surviving and at achieving its social purpose. The two together, after auditing, combine to demonstrate the true worth of the social enterprise.


It is also a key feature of social enterprises that they acknowledge at least a responsibility to account to their stakeholders. For many that includes a form of democratic structure which gives ownership and governance rights to the constituency they seek to benefit. Accounting to stakeholders can be achieved through the social accounting process as it creates channels of dialogue, and therefore accountability, with key stakeholders. This gives them the opportunity to influence not only how the social enterprise performs but also what it does.

Accountability starts by acknowledging just who the stakeholders are whom a social enterprise affects - or, indeed, who can affect it. For most enterprises that go through the exercise of mapping their stakeholders it is an illuminating process, one which demonstrates that they affect far more people than they had thought. It also makes enterprises aware of how they can affect people unintentionally. Understanding these relationships and learning to work with them becomes an important dimension of accountability.

John Pearce, who died from cancer aged just 69, was a major and influential force in community development and in particular was a pioneer in community enterprise - the precursor to social enterprise. For nearly fifty years, John's ideas, inspiration and exceptional talent for clear thinking were a driving force behind people-centred development and especially around the principles and practice of collective and community enterprise.

Back to top

Stop Press

SAN Training Courses

A further set of dates has just been added to the SAN training courses in north west England. We are pleased to announce that Salford University will be hosting our Prove, Improve, Account course on 26th and 27th May 2015, and also our Social Auditor Workshop on 28th May. for more information, contact the SAN office:

Back to top

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