The SROI Network suggests using this list of seven simple checkpoints when measuring return on social investment offered by an innovation or organisation:
1. Involve the stakeholders
Identify and consult stakeholders as the analysis is undertaken. This is to ensure that the value (and the way it’s measured) is informed by the actual people who are supposed to benefit from what you’re doing.
2. Understand what changes
Using clear evidence, track and measure everything that is affected (positively and negatively, intended and unintended) by what you’re doing.
3. Value the things that matter
Here’s where things get interesting. This step requires you to attach some kind of value, frequently financial, to the outcomes of your activity. It’s a tricky task, but one that works to ensure that all things (even the hard-to-monetise ones) are given a value and can therefore be assessed.
4. Only include what is material
This is where you decide what information and evidence is included in your assessment, making sure that the stakeholders can draw reasonable conclusions about its real impact.
5. Do not over-claim
In other words, exclude any value that you’re not directly responsible for creating. This takes other organisations’ contributions out of the equation, and helps to “purify” the data.
6. Be transparent
Explain and document every aspect of your analysis, as well as the process – from how you gathered the data to how and why you used it.
7. Verify the result
Objectivity is just about impossible. Your assessment is going to be subjective, so an independent outsider should always verify it.