■ What is the issue?
The Agenda 2030 calls on all actors in the economy to contribute to sustainable and inclusive development. As the financial and corporate sectors take strides to plan, implement, and assess their impact strategies, Social Solidarity Economy (SSE) organisations are under increasing pressure to demonstrate their value added to society. External donors and investors request evidence on how resources are used and what results are achieved. Public policies that place greater emphasis on competition for contracts, user choice and efficiency call for further attention to social impact measurement. Most importantly, SSE organisations can proactively and voluntarily embrace social impact measurement for both learning and promotional purposes.
SSE organisations pursue a social mission, which they prioritise over the maximisation of profits. This implies a heightened burden to prove their benefits to society and creates a strategic need to understand the levers and obstacles to positive social value creation. Social impact measurement does not merely serve as a tool for external accountability, but may provide SSE organisations with a differentiating factor in the market place as well as an opportunity for strategic reflection and growth. Yet both practical and theoretical difficulties hamper a more widespread adoption of social impact measurement by SSE organisations. The lack of a clear definition of social impact, shared by all actors in the SSE ecosystem, makes it difficult to translate it into meaningful measurement practices.
Social impact measurement is increasingly understood as an integral part of the intangible market infrastructure that is necessary to not only orient the supply of capital toward sustainable and responsible investment opportunities, but also to aggregate and organise the demand side in the social and solidarity economy. Across all countries covered by the Global Action (EU27 Member States, Brazil, Canada, India, Korea, Mexico and the United States), policy makers have taken initiatives to foster the emergence of a social impact measurement culture and support its dissemination in the SSE sector. National and local governments can do build on this by improving the policy framework, delivering methodological guidance, producing impact evidence and/or supporting capacity development.
Despite significant progress and growing international interest in greater harmonisation when appropriate, there is not yet one universally agreed approach for social impact measurement. Several methodologies exist, but they are not necessarily coherent and suitable for the needs of SSE organisations. Frequently applied methods range from collecting stakeholder feedback to conducting fully-fledged impact evaluations, which may also include monetary valuation. The diversity of tools and resources available can be daunting and difficult to navigate, especially for smaller or less experienced entities. While some guidance exists, ultimately each SSE organisation has to decide how to select and develop the most appropriate social impact measurement strategy, based on their needs and context
■ About the expert meeting
The OECD Global Action, through its work stream on social impact measurement, endeavours to explore: 1) current social impact measurement practices among SSE organisations; 2) the methodologies best suited to capture the social benefits of the SSE; and 3) policy initiatives to foster a social impact measurement culture and practice in the SSE ecosystem.
The main objective of the expert meeting will be to explore the different methodological trends related to social impact measurement and how public action can foster learning and accountability in the social and solidarity economy. Specific objectives include:
- Taking stock of policy efforts to promote social impact measurement practice in countries covered by the OECD Global Action;
- Better understanding the diversity, relevance and implications of social impact measurement methodologies as they are being applied in the SSE;
- Identifying crosscutting opportunities and challenges that could inform the international guide on social impact measurement to be delivered by the Global Action in 2022.
■ Organisation of theexpoert meeting
The meeting is organised around two breakout sessions:
- Session 1 – Policy initiatives for social impact measurement in the Social and Solidarity Economy
- Session 2 – Methodologies for social impact measurement in the Social and Solidarity Economy
During each session, participants will split in small groups that will run in parallel, following the same agenda. Participants will be asked to support their arguments with examples from the countries targeted by the Action.