As reported in yesterday’s Third Sector Daily emailing, ACEVO, New Philanthropy Capital, NCVO and four other organisations are collaborating in drafting a new framework and principles for social impact reporting which early signs suggest will be supported and endorsed by the Office for Civil Society. They are hoping that an agreed set of impact reporting principles will be launched in early 2012 and will form the basis for the analysis and reporting of impact right across the social sector.
The group has issued a paper outlining the principles — which can be downloaded here — and is seeking feedback from charities, social enterprises and voluntary and community organisations regarding their universal applicability.
At a first look I find nothing to object to in the principles — as far as they go. They seem to be primarily about what might most accurately be described as principles of good communication. The missing dimension is anything to tell us what OCS (and government departments, public institutions and purchasers) want to see in the way of impact reporting — in particular, whether some form of SROI (such as savings to the public purse) should necessarily form part of what is measured.
While this may go beyond the brief the group has set itself it seems significant because the thrust of recent government statements about impact have tended to suggest that the measures which will most interest OCS and others is the extent to which the activities of third sector organisations can be demonstrated to divert or reduce demand on public services and hence represent a saving to the Treasury. This after all is the whole thrust of Social Impact Bonds.
Comments on the paper (no deadline is given) should be sent to tlumley <at> philanthropycapital <dot> org.