All social enterprises are on a mission to change society for the better. Being able to tell others about your cause and why it matters will push your work forward and lead you to success. A clear statement of your mission also helps you define the impact you want to make and decide which changes you need to measure and demonstrate.
Guidance: To meet the standard in full, you will fully understand the social, economic or environmental problem you are tackling. You will have up-to-date information from credible sources that shows the seriousness and extent of the problem.
Social enterprises take a business approach to achieving their mission and making a difference. To achieve a lasting impact that you can measure, you need to find a business model that is right for you. By ‘business model’ we mean a plan that will help you to reach customers (the people that pay for your services), give them something they value, and make enough money from doing so to achieve your social impact.
Guidance: To meet the standard in full, you will have considered the business methods that can be used to pursue your cause and deliver on your stated mission. You will have explored various alternatives and taken inspiration from other social enterprises.
A value proposition is a set of statements that describe the things that make your work distinctive, successful and uniquely valuable to others. It explains how you do business more responsibly than your competitors, why you are the best choice for your customers, and how your work solves social problems in a financially sustainable way (that is, without running out of money or relying heavily on funding). These things are all important for your success.
Guidance: To meet the standard in full, you can explain what makes you better than your competitors at reaching customers, solving their problems, meeting their needs and wants, and ensuring that they come back.
To measure your social impact, you must first work out how and why your work brings about change. This means identifying the relationships between your actions, your performance, and your results. It can be helpful to visualise this process of change in a diagram that is often referred to as a ‘theory of change’ or ‘logic model’. This can help you define the things that really matter and find the best way to measure them.
Guidance: To meet the standard in full, you have identified the end result you want to achieve through your work. This will fulfil your mission. It is the broad, long-term change you are striving for; the change that matters most to your stakeholders.
Performance measures help you assess how well you are working to make the changes you want to bring about. They provide clear signs of progress that are linked to performance indicators or metrics (calculations, such as ratios, based on two or more indicators). You need a good set of performance measures to plan how you will achieve your goals and show the changes you have made.
Guidance: To meet the standard in full, you have identified what information you need to test, support or refine your understanding of the way your work brings about change. This information is able to show whether or not you are making good progress towards the difference you planned to make.
To convince others that you are making progress and achieving the things you hoped for, you need to collect the right information. You need to decide what information to collect, how to collect it, and how often to collect it. You then need collect the information regularly and in a consistent way.
Guidance: To meet the standard in full, you have identified the most important and useful information to collect. The information is linked to your performance measures and meets your reporting needs. You have considered both quantitative data (numbers) and qualitative data (for example, case studies) that might be helpful.
Organizations need to be able to assemble and analyse data in a way that is credible. This allows you to gain useful insights, assess your performance, and work out whether you have achieved your intended outcomes. You can only gain these insights by reviewing your evidence regularly and as a team.
Guidance: To meet the standard in full, you have an appropriate system in place for storing, managing and analysing the information you collect. Your team members understand the system and use it consistently. Your system produces information that can readily be analysed.
The information you collect should be used to produce a balanced account of your work and the difference it makes. How you present this evidence is important for showing your organization is trustworthy and accountable. It can help you make better decisions about what you will do next. It can also help you to communicate your achievements clearly and persuasively to others.
Guidance: To meet the standard in full, you publicly report on the main things you do, achieve, and change. This provides a transparent account that helps others to understand your organization and its impact.
Guidance: To meet the standard in full, you have clear and agreed communication goals. For example, to build your reputation, to raise your profile, to grow support for your cause, to attract new employees, or to get more funding.
All organizations should strive for a cycle of improvement – transparent performance, useful learning, better results, more support, and so on. To achieve this, you need to use accurate and timely information at all levels of your work and act on insights from that information. You also need to use it to motivate and influence others to work towards your goals.
Guidance: To meet the standard in full, you share results regularly with everyone in your team to extend learning, motivate people, and bring about improvements. This has become routine practice, not a separate task.