Circular for May 2012

List of Contents


News and Developments

Stop Press

Contacts & Coordinators

Social Audit Network May 2012

‘Well organised, stimulating content, delivered through a variety of different approaches which made it a most entertaining day.’

‘A great event in a great place!’

‘Great to hear from different sectors and perspectives.’

SAN Conference 2012‘Excellent day! Early icebreaker and latersummary notes are how all conferences should be run. Combat early morning grogginess and engage and stimulate conversation and debate (and networking) early!’

‘ Refreshing overall. Most useful elements listening to speakers and invariably the networking- good to catch up.’

‘Well organised, relaxed atmosphere, incredible learning enhanced overall positive experience.’

‘As someone at the beginning of a journey, it was helpful, although wasn’t quite sure which afternoon workshop to go to, so went to starting small.’

Above is just some of the feedback following the 2012 SAN Gathering at the Women’s Organisation in Liverpool on 20th April 2012.

Mags Porter of The Connectives opened the day with the World café conversations around 4 challenging topics relating to social value measurement. The results of these conversations can be found on the SAN website at SAN 2012

This was followed by keynote speeches from Luciana Berger MP and Caroline Mason (Chief Operating Officer at Big Society Capital). Luciana outlined cross party support for the Social Value Bill and how measuring social impact will make a difference for social enterprises.

Caroline Mason used her slot to explain more about how Big Society Capital will operate and invest its money. See ‘Recent developments in social value’ below for more information.

A lively panel discussion is described below by Matthew Lanham, who also shared his ‘three nuggets’ of unexpected benefit from doing social accounting with gathering participants.

After lunch, five participatory workshops were 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 

Presentations used by facilitators will shortly be available at the SAN website.

The first SAN Memorial Lecture was delivered by Dr Adam Richards, from Liverpool John Moores University. Dedicated to SAN founding members and Chairs John Pearce and Mike Swain, Dr Richards held the audience with tales of his experiences and research into measuring social impact and teaching students in social enterprise.

The Gathering was followed by the 2012 AGM, at which one new Director was elected to the SAN Board. Sean Smith joins the team, who now include:

Alan Kay (Vice Chair), Mary McGarry (Company secretary), Anne Lythgoe (Treasurer), Lisa McMullan, Matthew Lanham, Liz Brooks-Allen and Barbara Beaton.

SAN would like to thank resigning Board member Lawrence McAnelly for his sterling work, and his enthusiasm and humour will be much missed.

Read on for more about the Gathering, new social value tools and information about how your organisation can join SAN.


Tribute to SAN founder members

Alan Kay, the acting Chair of SAN, spoke at the start of the SAN gathering about John Pearce and Mike Swain

‘Both of them died in 2011 and in some ways this is really a tribute to them and the contribution they made to this whole area of social accounting.  And by that I mean how organisations with a central social purpose can account and measure the social change that happens as a result of their activities.’

Alan explained that both men had been pioneers in the area of community development community business and social accounting. He had worked with both men for over 20 years, and outlined their careers, significant achievements and legacy in SAN…

‘The Social Audit Network first started as a loose association of folk interested in social accounting and audit.  We came together when we could and later formed the Social Audit Network as a company in 2003.  We have tried to be a learning and enabling network of interested organisations and practitioners. 

SAN started out as the only “kid” on the block – but over the last five years there has been a huge increase in organisations and individuals working in this area of measuring and accounting for social impact – SROI Network, Social Impact Analysts Association, New Philanthropy Capital, new economics foundation and so on…

Exciting projects are being devised like Inspiring Impact.  Many people are blogging and tweeting about social impact measurement.  And others are coming up with yet more tools and ideas and products to help others account for their impact.’ 

Finally, Alan outlined three things that John and Mike dedicated much of their thinking to in this area of social impact.

‘The first is that any measure of social accounting – and I use this term generically – must be about empowering organisations and communities to track and explain their impact on people, the planet and the local economy.  The knowledge and understanding of change has to be held within the organisation.  It should not be the preserve of outside consultants – as this creates dependency and is ultimately unsustainable.

The second is about the need to be accountable – not just to funders, investors and commissioners – but also the folk we work for, the staff, our partners and so on.  And this accountability should be linked to disclosing the information on performance and impact in an open way.

The third is a plea that we do not lose sight of community.  There is a danger that the social enterprise movement will split into those social enterprises, on the one hand, that are businesses with some social objectives but still hugely benefit the owners; and, on the other, those whose primary focus is towards community and collective benefit, equality and social justice.’

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Three nuggets! – additional value from social accounting

At the recent SAN Gathering, Matthew Lanham, Chief Executive of the Neuro-Muscular Centre (NMC), in Cheshire, outlined three nuggets of wisdom from their experience of social accounting and audit over the last 5 years….

  • 1. NMC did stakeholder analysis and for the first time it made us think properly about the Carers of, what we saw as our primary service users – the actual people with muscular dystrophy.

The SAA process guided us to actually survey this group to find out what they thought of NMC and in particular what impact NMC was having on Carers’ lives.

We were astonished to discover 84% of Carers saying that NMC had a positive impact on the quality of their own lives as well as the person whom they cared. We also pulled together some other quantitative data and shocked ourselves to reveal we provided over 12,000 Carers’ respite breaks in a year!

Using this information we have forged new links with our local authorities and are now contracted to provide Carers’ breaks. This accounts for 6% of our total income now. It was zero prior to Social Accounting and Audit (SAA).

  • 2. We found from our SAA that 93% of people who came to NMC were inspired to go on and achieve more in life.

We knew many of the younger people we saw for the first time were experiencing depression. They often felt like the future was bleak/pointless and without hope.

At this time we served people aged 16 and over.

Armed with this powerful new statistic we felt we almost had a duty to reach out to younger people 13+ and their families to provide positive options, hope and inspiration.

We bid for and won a tender with our local authority to provide structured short breaks around transition.

This now accounts for 5% of our total income.

  • 3. Having influential Social Audit panel members has been one of the big wins for NMC.

We’ve audited our accounts for 5 consecutive years and have had some amazing local people give us a day of their time…….

Director Adult Social CareSenior PCT Commissioner
CEO Clinical Commissioning Consortium
Portfolio holder for Adult Social Care (Councillor Cabinet member)
Neuromuscular Consultant from Walton Centre, Liverpool
Carers Manager for local Council
Business people

And more!

All have learnt to appreciate the detail and impact of our work and gone on to be great advocates for our charity.

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SAN Gathering Panel session

“Social Impact and the delivery of Public Services”

This session took inputs from 3 people with very practical experiences in this area and was followed by questions and discussion from delegates.

The panel consisted of Mike Pyrah, NHS Social Value Foundation and a former PCT CEO, Stuart Dagg from Bolton at Home (Housing Association) and Matthew Lanham, NeuroMuscular Centre and SAN UK.

Mike spoke very powerfully about the need to measure social value but not to see that as an end in itself. He used real examples of social enterprises and community organisations that had made very differences to people’s health. He cited how difficult it was to commission the “heroes” – the key individuals who are often the catalyst for outstanding work.

Stuart explained how his organisation had embraced Social Accounting and Audit and the challenges and revelations which the process had led to. He explained how positive and challenging the process of reviewing mission, objectives, values and activities had proved for the organisation.

Matthew shared his “three nuggets” – specific examples of benefits (in the form of new public sector contracts won) for his organisation as a result of Social Accounting and Audit.

Caroline Mason of Big society Capital also joined the panel.

Questions were many and various with examples of difficult or uninformed commissioners a recurrent theme. Equally examples of positive experiences of commissioning, but overall there seemed a consensus view that SAN (and others) had further work to do in developing the commissioning professions to appreciate more about SAA as a tool and how to understand and appreciate a variety of measures of Social Value.

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News and Developments

Big Society Capital

The recent SAN gathering in Liverpool featured a keynote speech from Caroline Mason (Chief Operating Officer at Big Society Capital).

The £600m ‘Big Society’ fund was launched at the beginning of April by Prime Minister David Cameron to help charities and community groups expand and become more business-like. Big Society Capital will give social enterprises and community groups access to affordable finance. The government wants the investment to enable the voluntary sector to apply ‘business principles to tackle social problems on a sustainable basis’, with no cost to the taxpayer.

Reclaiming cash left in dormant bank accounts has raised £400m, with the remainder set to come from the UK’s four largest high street banks.

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Social Accounting and a new online tool called Sofie

In Finland, Jatta Vikström has been exploring the similarities between the SAN method of Social Accounting and a new online tool called Sofie. The makers, Syfo Ltd are now looking for interested people to demo-test Sofie for Social Accounting? Knowing SAN’s history and achievements in the field they would very much appreciate your opinion and ideas about the tool. If you would be interested to cooperate, just let Jatta know by emailing: or go to

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Social Impact Scotland

Social Impact Scotland has devoted a section of its website to providing an introduction to some key approaches to measuring and evaluating social impact. Log on to Social Impact Scotland for more information.

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Stop Press

SAN Membership

Organisations supporting the work of SAN can become Members of the network for an annual fee of £60. This is the same price as for individual Members but allows every member of an organisation to belong. SAN is constantly working to promote social accounting and audit as a valuable tool for impact measurement among commissioners, funders and service providers. If you are interested in supporting this work, please complete a membership form (available at the SAN website).

Becoming a Member of SAN will entitle you and your organization to discounts on events organized by SAN and access to the upcoming Members’ area of the SAN website.

Please also note social auditor members pay a different fee and have to make an annual return, now due, detailing their activity during the past year, including relevant training attended.

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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