Handyman Tools

SAA Toolkit

10 simple stages in Social Accounting

When used in conjunction to the Prove, Improve and Account Guide to social accounting and audit, this checklist can be used to support and guide your social accounting journey. We recommend that you first attend one of SAN’s workshops and use the following to refresh your memory and plan your actions.

1. Think it Through – planning your social accounting


What you need to do:

  • Assess what you do already which could be part of your social accounting
  • Decide WHO will lead the work, will have a minor role in it or just needs to be kept informed
  • Decide whether there is any training that you will need – and ask SAN what is available
  • Decide what other resources you might need (and when) and make sure that they can be made available
Worksheets to complete: Top Tips:
  • Use what you already have in place to start your social accounting – don’t invent anything new at this stage

  • Think about whether you need a steering group to share ideas (and the work)

  • SAN recommends that social accounting becomes part of someone’s job description and isn’t an ‘add on’

  • Think about who else can help – volunteers, students, other local experts, etc




2. Clarify the purpose – what impact is your organisation looking to create?


What you need to do:

  • Use your business plan or governance documents to write down what your organisation does and start to map the anticipated outcomes and impacts
  • Think about IMPACT objectives (from services that you have for others) and any ORGANISATIONAL objectives (how you run your business)
  • For IMPACT objectives – map out what you do, the outputs this might generate and looked for outcomes and longer-term impacts for people and communities or the environment
  • For ORGANISATIONAL objectives – map out your social, environmental and economic ‘added value’ (often called ‘social value’). Think about the ‘key aspects’ of an organisation with a ‘social’ or ‘ethical’ purpose
Worksheets to complete: Top Tips:
  • If you have a number of projects or activities, consider putting together one ‘social account’ for each one or carry out a ‘deep dive’ into only one of your objectives / activities
  • Look at your main funder or customer’s Social Value policy – are they looking for particular things like local employment or supply chain, Living Wage, etc
  • Use our worksheets to think about the impact of your organisational objectives – this will help you better describe your Social Value




3. Engage with your Stakeholders


What you need to do:

  • Put together a list or ‘map’ of all the stakeholders in your organisation
  • Decide which stakeholders are most important to talk to about your social accounting (key stakeholders)
  • Start to plan your stakeholder consultation – who you want to talk to, what about, how and when
Worksheets to complete: Top Tips:
  • Stakeholders must include the people inside your organisation, as well as those who are clients, customers, funders etc
  • Review your ‘key stakeholders’ regularly as their importance may change
  • Try not to invent new or ‘one off’ ways of engaging people – try to build your social accounting questions into what’s already happening




4. Define the scope


What you need to do:

  • Decide the time period of your social accounting
  • Decide what will be included in your social accounts
  • Decide the level of reporting – how detailed do your social accounts need to be?
  • Define how you will know whether your organisation is living up to its values
  • Identify the expected outputs and outcome indicators from your IMPACT objectives
  • Identify the expected outputs and outcome indicators from your ORGANISATIONAL objectives
  • Review your stakeholder consultation plan so that you are clear what you need to ask each stakeholder
Worksheets to complete: Top Tips:
  • To fully ‘embed’ social accounting it is best to report your social accounts at the same time as your financial accounts
  • Think about reporting on part of your organisation, only some of your objectives or only involving a limited group of stakeholders – but you will need to explain why you have decided to do this
  • SAN provides guidance on ‘basic’ and ‘advanced’ levels of reporting – it is often best to start with ‘basic’ and try not to be too ambitious the first time round
  • The views of your stakeholders are the most important in assessing your values
  • For IMPACT objectives, try to consult with stakeholders as part of the service or activity
  • For ORGANISATIONAL objectives and values, you may need to organise a specific event or survey




5. Determine materiality


What you need to do:

  • Decide how you will report on your organisation’s environmental outcomes and impacts
  • Decide how to report on your economic outcomes and impacts
  • Use the worksheets that you have completed so far to form a Social Accounting Plan – these together will set out what data you are going to collect and from whom
Worksheets to complete: Top Tips:
  • The green office checklist is a good place to start to think about environment under your ORGANISATIONAL objectives
  • Our worksheets will help you think about the wider aspects of ‘social value’
  • Keep the completed worksheets together in one file for reference
  • If you have a customer or other data base, set it up ready to lift out the data that you need. If not, convert our worksheets into a spreadsheet to record the data that you have collected




6. Make comparisons


What you need to do:

  • Decide about how you will know whether you are achieving outcomes, how well you are doing, and whether you are getting better at doing it
  • So far you have only been able to assess whether you are delivering your objectives (or not); making comparisons will show how well you are doing this and whether you are achieving the outcomes that you are looking for
Worksheets to complete: Top Tips:
  • In many cases you will only be able to compare accurately with your own previous performance
  • This is a really important part of social accounting, because it determines how ‘valuable’ or ‘impactful’ your actions have been




7. Complete the accounts


What you need to do:

  • Collect and analyse your data
  • Write draft social accounts – a presentation of the evidence that you have collected, your conclusions and results.
Worksheets to complete: Top Tips:
  • SAN provides guidance on how to do this
  • Include in the report a summary of the evidence – but make sure that you only write things that you can back up with evidence




8. Verification – the Social Audit


What you need to do:

  • Decide which audit option you want to useIf you have chosen to have an audit panel – set the date and decide who to invite
  • Use the audit verification checklist to prepare for auditHold the Social Audit Panel
Worksheets to complete: Top Tips:
  • This is the independent and rigorous verification of your social accounts and will tell your stakeholders whether your social accounts are robust and present a true picture of your work
  • Consider the opportunity to involve potential funders and customers in your audit panel, but be careful that they are not key stakeholders in your accounts
  • Prepare a presentation of the ‘key messages’ of your social accounts to submit to the panel on the day
  • Your SAN Social Auditor will help you call the meeting, set the agenda and brief the Panel members




9. Be transparent


What you need to do:

  • Publish a Social (Impact) Report – the version which you will share with your stakeholders
Worksheets to complete: Top Tips:
  • Use our guidance to draft your Social (Impact) Report to highlight the significant findings about your performance and impact
  • This is the document which you will use to share with your stakeholders, so think about what they need to know and how best to present it to them




10. Embed the social accounting


What you need to do:

  • Review how you did your social accounting, and the results that you gained from it
  • Develop an action plan for what you will change (or not) for next time
Worksheets to complete: Top Tips:
  • Involve as many of the staff and management committee members who have been involved in social accounting, in your reflection, perhaps as a focus group
  • Use your social accounts and the Social Audit Panel notes as a prompt for which areas could be included