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Measuring social impact: towards Social Value Italia

10/08/2014 - 05:15 PM

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The Telecom Italia Foundation, with the Vodafone and Sodalitas foundations and other major organisations, to start and promote consideration of social impact in Italy, its issues and measurement.

On 30 September last, in Milan, at the home of ALTIS ( (Postgraduate School Business and Society),   the Telecom Italia Foundation  took part in the first meeting to create Social Value Italia, together with  Human Foundation, KPMG, Fondazione Sodalitas,  Fondazione Vodafone, Puntodock, Reverso, UBI Banca, Impact&Sum.

The intent of the members of Social Value Italia is to combine the experience of the  SROI Network International and  SIAA Social Impact Analysts Association,  two of the most important international measurement networks which, when they merged last summer, resulted in a new body: Social Value Italia.
The organisations present in Milan therefore discussed the feasibility of prompting consideration of social impact in Italy, its issues and measurement, over the next few months.
In the context of contemporary philanthropy and social finance, a world-wide consensus has developed on the need to improve monitoring and evaluation  (M&E) techniques.
The consistency and validity of social projects and interventions require an M&E pathway that is able to establish their impact, efficiency and sustainability.   Particular focus has been put on the importance of assessing the social impact, both positive and negative, of organisations and projects, or rather, evaluating the effects rather than the intentions.
In this sense, there is an eagerness to go beyond analysis of the outputs - the activities and services supplied - to pay attention to the outcomes - the changes generated in the life of the beneficiaries, in order to understand the impact, meaning the results that are directly attributable to the intervention and the long term effects.
This approach to the issue of M&E  leads to three main consequences: the improvement of the decision-making processes of both donors and operators, constant growth in the skills of all stakeholders, and continuous improvement of the interventions.
In particular, the intention is to approach the issue of measuring social value through an Italian network, so as to:
■ position Italy as part of the global consideration of the evaluation and measurement of impact;
■ understand the change, supporting the focus on the "theory of change" in evaluation as well as design, through the analysis of outcomes in the sense of the intermediate and final effects of the change experienced by the beneficiaries of the activities of the organisation/project;
■ prompt the stakeholders to take responsibility, by constantly involving them in the analysis process, which promotes ownership and empowerment of the beneficiaries as well as service suppliers and donors;
■ communicate the steps of the analysis process in a transparent way, promoting storytelling as a communication tool;
■ share methods and results thanks to a framework capable of integrating different qualitative and quantitative investigation tools so as to generate an open source of good practice at national level, and to participate in the international open source;
■ test and improve on the approaches through the evaluation process, or measurement as a technique for improvement and not demonstration, in a context of constant training and direct learning, originating from the experience gained;
■ innovate institutions, organisations, processes and interventions, constantly problematising the field of analysis, so as develop outlines enabling interventions to be scaled up or down, and testing new, efficacious business models that can produce concrete and measurable results.