What exactly are the outputs that will have the positive social impact that you intend? In order to substantiate your claim that your business is a social business you will need to provide evidence that it has achieved its social objectives.
Therefore you will need to:
- set targets for social outputs
- measure and record activity against these targets
- report the results (and possibly have the reports audited)
How will you do these things?
Some social outputs are easy to measure, such as qualifications delivered or number of meals-on-wheels delivered. These are called hard outputs. If you are dealing in soft outputs, such as increased self-confidence or work-readiness in individual clients, you will need to consider how you will measure and record them. For a social business, these systems are part of the business model.
In the world of social business, the following terms have particular meanings, which you will need to understand not least so that you can deal with other agencies without ambiguity:
- Social output - this is your social product, as described above.
- Social outcome - this is the effect that your social output has on the community. For example, the number of meals-on-wheels clients getting adequate nutrition over a given period.
- Social impact: - this is the difference that your social output makes. For example, if you did not deliver meals-on-wheels it may be that some clients would be catered for by carers, so it would seem that your service does not have such a great impact after all. However, it now becomes clear that what you are really providing is respite to carers – that may be your main social impact in this scenario.
Note that positive environmental impact (or reduced environmental damage) does not count as a social outcome. Your business will need additional systems if you want to monitor your environmental impact. Use the same approach - set targets, measure, record and report.