Measuring Your Social Value

Dorset Community Action is part of a national pilot to develop good social value practice using the Social Value Engine, an online tool developed to enable organisations to calculate the social value they create.

The Social Value Engine was jointly developed by Rose Regeneration and East Riding of Yorkshire Council in response to the Public Services (Social Value Act 2012). The engine works alongside and has incorporated Social Return on Investment (SROI) methodology and the seven Social Value UK principles.  Behind the Social Value Engine is a team whose collective experience in social value totals more than 30 years, embedding the theory and best practice of social value into every aspect of our training and support offer.

What is Social Value?

Social value is the quantification of the relative importance that people place on the changes they experience in their lives. We measure this social value from the perspective of those affected by an organisation’s work, putting the emphasis on engaging people to understand the impact of decisions on their lives.

Social value is defined through the Public Services (Social Value) Act (2012) which requires public sector organisations and their suppliers to look beyond the financial cost of a contract to consider how the services they commission and procure can improve the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of an area.

Examples of social value might include the value we experience from increasing our confidence, skills we gain from completing an employment course, or having a greater sense of well-being from living next to a community park.

What is Social Value measurement?

Organisations will always create good and bad experiences, though on balance should aim to create a net positive impact. Through measuring their impacts, organisations can use this understanding to make better decisions for people.  Social value measurement helps us to understand how a project creates value, expressed as a ratio that states how much social value in monetary terms is created for every £1 of funding spent.

Why is Social Value important?

The UK government now requires that social value is evaluated as part of the tender process for most of its biggest outsourcing contracts, some of which are worth billions of pounds. Under the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, when scoring bids, government awards up to 10% of marks for social value, a margin that can make the difference between success and failure.

Local councils are adopting similar approaches, not only in their own procurement but also in planning. And the United Nations has created 17 Sustainable Development Goals for tackling the world’s biggest challenges like poverty, inequality, and climate change.  Game-changing stuff, and it’s all included in the way we measure and track social value for the public, voluntary, and private sectors.

How we can support you:

  1. Assist your organisation to develop your Theory of Change – if we do not know what we want to change then how can we measure it?
  2. Select the right social value measurement proxies in the Engine to most closely fit the work/activities your organisation carries out.
  3. Reviewing the data you are collecting, and help identify gaps that may exist in your data collection systems
  4. Calculate the Social Value of the projects or services that your organisation delivers.
  5. Provide a project report illustrating this, and recommended next steps on how best to continue the Social Value measurement process within your organisation.
  6. Design an Impact Report that you can share online via social media or as part of your marketing activities.
  7. Support you to use the Engine to prepare social value calculations for public sector tenders.
  8. Support Councils, Health Trusts and other public bodies wanting to use the Engine to develop business cases for potential projects/funding schemes.


The Social Value Engine is the only UK Software product accredited by Social Value International (SVI), giving you confidence that the software has been rigorously validated by an independent authority and it will be kept aligned with emerging good practice.

Access to skilled support

The Social Value Engine team are skilled professionals with decades of experience in this field. They can train and support you in the best use of the SVE.

Ease of reporting

The SVE can report using two globally recognised frameworks, and projects can select between the two (UN’s 17 Sustainability Goals, and the Bristol Accord). The SVE can also flex to incorporate other, local, regional, or national reporting frameworks.