Social Value theories and frameworks

Understanding Change

Theory of Change

Organisations are more likely to understand their outcomes if their work is underpinned by a “Theory of Change”. Theory of Change is focused on mapping out the journey from an organisations activities or interventions to show how these lead to desired goals being achieved. It does this by first identifying the desired long-term goals and then works back from these to identify all the conditions (outcomes) that must be in place for the goals to occur. These are all mapped out in an Outcomes Framework, like a flowchart.

Charities Evaluation Service | Theory of Change


NPC have brought together a plan to follow that includes 7 practical tools for improving your outcomes and impact, starting with Theory of Change and including NPC’s 4 Pillar Approach, Impact Strategies and a ‘How To’ Guide for measuring impact. It includes some outcomes frameworks for working with Young People, for which you can substitute one of the examples on our ‘Measuring Outcomes’ page.

NPC | 7 Practical Tools

Impact Reporting

Once you start to measure your outcomes you need a framework in place to organise the information you collect, analyse it and communicate it to others. There are a number of report frameworks available to organisations. See examples of Salford Reports written using these frameworks.

Impact Measuring

A relatively simple starting point may be to complete an Impact Measuring Map and publish that! This will help you be very clear about your inputs, activities, outputs, outcomes and impacts. This tool works very well with Theory of Change.

Prove and Improve | Impact Map

One Page Social Impact Report

Produce your own ‘One Page Social Impact Report’ (really – just one side of A4!) using a great little easy to use online tool. The website walks you through all the best practice contents of a social impact report (outputs, outcomes, impacts and stakeholder feedback) and produces a smart, formatted report with your logo – ready to share with funders, stakeholders, the Board and service users. Click here to read CVS’s One Page Impact Report for the Social Value Support Programme.

Intentionality |One Page Impact Report online tool

Social Accounting and Audit

The Social Audit Network produces the Social Accounting framework ‘Prove Improve Account!’. Based on 7 principles of good practice, it guides you to;

  • Provide background and context about your organisation or project, for your report
  • Explicitly state your vision, mission, aims and objectives. Values too if you have them
  • Account fully for and report on your organisation’s social, environmental and economic performance, outcomes and impact
  • Be accountable to all your stakeholders and beneficiaries
  • Report on the ethical status of your organisation’s policy
  • Provide the information essential for planning future actions and improving performance

Prove Improve Account! provides a format into which all kinds of other impact measurement tools, such as SROI can feed.

SAN can externally verify or ‘audit’ any size of social report and they have a two-day training programme which teaches their ‘Prove, Improve, Account’ method of social accounting and reporting.

Social Audit Network | Homepage

Social Return on Investment is a framework for measuring all types of Social Value. A cost benefit analysis combined with social analysis, it places a monetary figure on an organisations social, economic and environmental impact. The costs are based on a variety of valuation methods including cost benefit analysis, wellbeing valuation and proxy measures. The result is a ratio, for example for every £1 invested £2 is returned in social value. A guide to Social Return on Investment is available from Social Value UK.

Social Value UK | A Guide to Social Return on Investment 2012

Social Value UK | Starting Out on Social Return on Investment

Principles of Good Impact Reporting


NCVO produce a 6 page easy to read guide aimed at VCSE and charities and covers their 6 basic principles of creating a report.

The Principles of Good Impact Reporting

Social Value UK – 7 Principles

Social Value UK have created an online self-assessment tool to help users judge how well their evaluation and reporting practices adhere to principles of best practice. The tool is comprised of a seven stage questionnaire, showing results as a spider chart illustrating areas of strength and areas for improvement.

Social Value UK | Self-Assessment Tool

Social Value and Performance Frameworks

New Economic Foundation (nef) 

Nef guide gives you essential information about more than 20 tools and methods that can help you to prove and improve your organisation’s quality and impact. Depending on the size and type of your organisation it will recommend which tools are right for your needs.

New Economics Foundation | Tools for You

Nef | Tool Decider

Social Value Online Systems

There are also a number of online systems that might help organise your outcomes and Social Value evidence and which can produce Social Impact Reports from the information they collect. Salford CVS has not tried any of these, some are free but some have a cost – check the websites for more details.

Evide Impact Tracker

Supports 121 case management, is customisable, and manages tasks and diaries. You can set and manage your own outcome indicators and analyse and report on inputs, outputs & outcomes.

Evide Impact Tracker | Homepage


Developed by social research cooperative Substance. Can be used whether you deliver mass participation events, one to one counselling, family intervention services, participatory sessions or all of the above.

Substance | Views

Your Value!

An online tool which will take you through inputting information and data about your organisation and the people it supports to produce a full written and graphical report. It has been developed by Community Matters and has support from the Charity Commission and Department for Communities and Local Government.

Community Matters | Measuring Social Value


Sinzer can handle multiple organisations and multiple projects. It is the only online Social Value tool to be accredited by Social Value UK and is capable of producing a Social Return on Investment result.

Sinzer | Online Tool

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Salford CVS is the city-wide infrastructure organisation for the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector; providing specialist information, advice, development support and opportunities for influence and collaboration.

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