One of the priorities of the Humanitarian Activities Committee (HAC) this year is to establish a formal approach to assessing the impact created by funded projects and events. Social Return on Investment (SROI) is one of the methods currently being explored as a possible option to adapt to IEEE and HAC’s context. This methodology focuses on evaluating the social and environmental impact of a project instead of just the economic impact. Projects are designed so that their outcomes offer benefit to a local, underserved community. However, there are many benefits that may not always be quantifiable, some of them cannot be reflected immediately, and some of them may add value indirectly, such as social status/respect, satisfaction, increased harmony in family, less crime, better working environment, good health, reducing mental pressure etc. The SROI approach starts with identifying the key stakeholders and what the desired outcomes are for each stakeholder group. Then dollar values are assigned to the outcomes to measure the value of the investment made.
On 26 June, IEEE HAC Education Committee Chair Dr. Shaikh Fattah was invited by IEEE Smart Village (ISV) Education Committee Chair Olga Andarson to conduct an online training session on the Social Return on Investment (SROI) methodology. The secretary of ISV Education Committee Alexander informed that they have nine ongoing education projects and several of their entrepreneurs are looking for ways to improve and standardize their method of metric collection related to their projects. The training session was about one hour, and included a step-by-step demonstration and time for questions and answers. The participants liked the idea of calculating SROI and were interested in exploring the possibility of using the SROI method in their projects.
One major objective of ISV Education Committee is to start developing a comprehensive set of metrics for all the educational activities across their communities and projects. Putting a dollar value on social impact is one of the most challenging evaluation questions that they want to address. The ISV Education Committee expressed their interest to continue the collaboration with IEEE HAC Education Committee to determine meaningful metrics, acceptable to local communities and informative for supporters and donors.
To learn more about the SROI methodology, please see Dr. Fattah’s presentation.