Circular for October 2015

List of Contents


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Contacts & Coordinators

Social Audit Network October 2015

Valuing Volunteering..

Trying to measure the 'value' of volunteering has, we have found, become a complicated business...

Here is the story of an organisation in the housing sector, proud of both its community projects and its social accounting. Traditionally, this organisation has referred to Volunteering England for a monetary value on the contribution that volunteers are making to its community projects. 

More recently however, our friends have turned to HACT's wellbeing measurement guidance HACT say that volunteering hours at minimum wage is also a cost as well as bringing economic impact by providing a resource the activity would otherwise have to pay for. This would make a big (negative) difference to their accounts.

'How can that be? Is there a cost to our organisation of having volunteers? We thought that encouraging volunteering was a good thing, and should have lots of value...'

...and so began a frantic email exchange on the eve of this organisation's social audit panel. A panel member had picked up this issue and asked for clarification. SAN was called in to comment and consulted Social Value UK and the Global Value Exchange.

The response was clear – the key issue is the definition of the measure – to whom is the value / benefit accrued? (ie the individual volunteer or the organisation). HACT use the well-being valuation technique to expresses the "value of an outcome (e.g. volunteering) to an individual". This is different to looking at the economic value of volunteering which is an expression of the "value of volunteering to an organisation".

At the Global Value Exchange, a quick search was run to see entries about "Volunteering" and filtered on valuations. There are 46 pages on this!

Furthermore, there is a need to think about how the volunteering actually relates to the project delivery. If the volunteering was instead of work being done by a paid employee, then there's a benefit to the organisation as well as the volunteer...

In summary, HACT measures the wellbeing value to the individual volunteer, Volunteering England measures the value of a volunteer's time in a wage equivalent, which would be useful for measuring work done 'in kind' on a project.

...and the moral of the story is to read the definition of an indicator or proxy financial measure carefully before using it in your social accounts!


Social Accounting in practice…

In north-west England, the Big Life organisation has started social accounting as part of its Being Well Salford project. As well as supporting some of SAN’s recent training courses in the City with an honest case study of their social accounting journey and what it means to them, Big Life have taken social book-keeping and accountability to new levels with their new interactive periodic reporting. Have a look online at to see how they keep their social accounts ‘live’ with up to date facts and figures, case studies and stakeholder feedback.

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The ‘refreshed’ Salford Social Value Toolkit is now available online at

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The Institute of Health Equity at University College London has published its new report on social value and health inequalities.  It is available on their website and also at Public Health England.

Entitled ‘Local action on health inequalities - Using the Social Value Act to reduce health inequalities in England through action on the social determinants of health’, the report and its accompanying practice resource summary are probably the first piece of academic research on the health impacts of considering social value.

The report concludes that ‘Measurement (of social value) is more likely to be effective where it is proportionate to the scope of the goods or services being delivered and the circumstances of the provider. It may also be helpful to aim to measure social value in ways that reflect other local systems, processes and priorities to demonstrate where acting on social value delivers other benefits. Where possible, effects and savings should be disaggregated to see who benefits, to ensure a focus on equity and equitable outcomes.’

A further recent publication comes from NESTA’s realising the value project. Entitled ‘How should we think about value in health and care?’ the paper poses a number of questions about the concept of ‘value’ in health and social care.

This paper is a step towards creating a new articulation of value in co-production with other stakeholders, in order to achieve the wider Realising the Value programme objective of demonstrating the value of people and communities in their own health and care. 

The ideas set out in the paper will develop throughout the programme to underpin future activities and outputs of the programme. 

Further information about Realising the Value can be found on the programme website: and the paper can be downloaded from

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Social Value UK Conference – CRITICAL MASS

Critical Mass is the conference for anyone interested in social value, investment and innovation, whether you're a corporate, social enterprise, charity or public sector organisation. This year's event is taking place at the iconic Royal Institution in central London on 19th-20th October. Critical Mass will bring the best of SVI's global membership and Good Deals' position as the leading UK conference for social enterprise, social value, impact investment and corporate social innovation. 

Social Value UK has kindly offered a discount to all SAN members for this conference. If you are a SAN member and wish to attend, please contact the SAN office on for your discount code. This will give you 10% off your admission charge.

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Stop Press


Current dates for training can be found at the SAN website and include:

10th - 11th November 2015

PIA 2 day course


6th – 7th December 2015

PIA 2 day course


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.

Further PIA courses are planned in Leeds later in the year.

NEW Social Audit training course

SAN has been piloting a new Prove, Improve, Account course in Salford. Aimed at commissioning and procurement staff, the 2 day course mixes learning about social accounting and audit from a provider’s point of view, with applied tasks to ‘social value proof’ a service specification and evaluate responses to ‘social value’ questions in a tender situation.

Anyone interested in finding out more about this course should contact the SAN office or email Anne Lythgoe (

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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