“Te Whānau are at the leading edge in New Zealand because their work will provide a basis on which other organisations can take off on their Social Value journey.” – Jo Nicholson, Social Value Aotearoa Project Coordinator
An account of Social Value (SROI) is a story about the changes experienced by people – as a result of an organisation’s activities – grounded in the internationally accepted Seven Principles of Social Value. In this new series we look at the Seven Principles up close and in context. Beginning with number one: Involve stakeholders. This means informing what gets measured and how this is measured and valued in an account of Social Value by involving stakeholders.
This month we spoke with Te Whānau o Waipareira Trust who have embarked on their own SROI journey beginning with snapshots across each different sector within their organisation. Waipareira spans the Health, Education, Justice and Social sectors and has been working within the West Auckland community for more than three decades. Undertaking these ‘snapshots’ in different sectors within one organisation is unique and will illustrate what an account of social value looks like in these different areas side by side. Because this is a new conversation for most people, involving your staff and clients from the beginning is really important. Waipareira shed light on this agenda and share their journey so far beginning with their staff and clients (Whānau) and how they’ve been included in the process.
When people are central to what you do sheer numbers don’t really cut it. Business economist Marlon Van Dijk of Sinzer poses the question: “If businesses perform financial accounting, why shouldn’t organisations aimed at creating social value perform social accounting?” Particularly for Waipareira, where people are central to everything they do, this is a pressing question in terms of being able to better deliver their services. Strategy and Innovation Lead at Waipareira, Jacqui Harema, said that they really had to start by asking themselves some questions if they were to succeed going forward into this changing world and bring staff and Whānau with them, “We need to ask the right questions so that we can make better decisions. How are we making a difference? Are we creating as much value as we can with the resources that we have? It’s time to start measuring what matters – so what really matters to whānau?”
Working in collaboration with Social Ventures Australia, Waipareira is beginning with the staff who are dealing with clients on the ground to gain insights on what changes are being made and what needs to change by identifying a Golden Thread of desired outcomes. Their feedback has seen something truly remarkable: a cultural shift within each cluster. They are seeing their staff come to understand the process and rewards of being able to articulate the changes they see in their clients. “At first they were suspicious of this new approach and the language that came with it.” But Jacqui has been encouraged by the results so far: “They can actually show that these are the changes our work has created and this has given them more ownership and enthusiasm for the work that they do. Our staff can communicate the value that they are creating and oftentimes it is more than they anticipated. That is a really positive result.”
Waipareira engaged 50 staff members in SROI workshops across the sectors and the reports are in. The Alcohol and Drug workshops reported: “through these snapshots and identifying our key outcomes we can see which part of the roof is falling down and tailor our service to that particular issue.” Tai Tamariki, a programme that works with at-risk youth, reported: “It was awesome to have the opportunity to capture our mahi (work) in depth. A lot of the time reports show we’ve made 40 home visits, 10 phone calls, but it doesn’t show the efforts and results in detail.” And perhaps the most memorable comment came from a staff member of the Incredible Years parenting programme: “Don’t ask me how many programmes we’ve delivered, how many Whānau we’ve had through the door, I’m not good at numbers, but I’m really good at outcomes.”
With Waipareira now on the way to establishing where the most value is being created within each programme these insights can in turn be applied to increase social performance of other organisations. The National Member Network in NZ, Social Value Aotearoa, Project Coordinator, Jo Nicholson, said: “Te Whānau are at the leading edge in New Zealand because their work will provide a basis on which other organisations can take off on their Social Value journey.” SROI is a system that requires a bottom up approach and it must include, and more importantly listen to, the workers at ground level, and the needs and responses of their clients. It’s not a quick fix, or a simple one, when you want to embed an entirely new system of reporting into an organisation. “Measuring, evaluating and reporting social value in your workplace is a subtle, sometimes difficult process that takes time,” said Jo. “To understand the change it is important you go through the process and the process itself can be really difficult to navigate. But the benefits are boundless.”
Central to SROI is the involvement of all stakeholders affected by the programme. Surely the most important thing to do is ask the people affected what they think? Not only did Waipareira begin to see staff taking more ownership of their domain, the feedback provides decision makers with a more accurate picture of the inner workings of the organisation and that can be used to shape and improve service delivery in the future. ‘Reporting up’ has also allowed staff and clients to see that they are being heard and making a difference as their information is used to move the organisation forward and upwards in the community and in the world. This has led to some interesting results for Waipareira with clients identifying value in unexpected places and staff identifying unexpected outcomes in their work. Jacqui is looking forward to the next step on their journey: “with this information we can rewire our systems to better suit the needs of the people we are working for – Te Whānau.”