What is Social Value?

What is Social Value is a frequently asked question, with varied answers. Therefore, we at whatimpact wish to present a clear answer aligned with Social Value UK’s principles.

Social Value encompasses a broad range of factors, reflecting an organisation’s commitment to making a positive impact on society.  It includes environmental factors, as well as achieving economic goals. Here’s a breakdown of the components of Social Value:


  1. Environmental Value: This involves initiatives aimed at reducing environmental impact, promoting sustainability, and preserving natural resources. It includes efforts such as minimising carbon emissions, reducing waste generation, adopting renewable energy sources, and implementing eco-friendly practices throughout the supply chain. Also, contributing to environmental benefits through partnerships by supporting educational and grass-root initiatives. These collaborations  improve e.g. local ecosystems, cleaner environment,  and help wildlife conservation.


  1. Social Value: Initiatives focus on improving the well-being and quality of life of individuals and communities. This can include community engagement programs, charitable donations, volunteer initiatives, support for social causes (such as education, healthcare, and poverty alleviation). They consist also of efforts to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within the organisation. This involves understanding community needs and priorities, and acting upon them with  local communities. Community engagement can take many forms, including partnerships with local organisations, participation in community events, and consultation processes for decision-making. Read more about how you can best engage with your community.


  1. Economic Value: Economic value refers to the financial benefits generated by the organisation’s activities. While the primary focus of Social Value is on non-financial outcomes, economic value is still important for sustaining operations and enabling growth. This can include job creation, fair wages and benefits for employees, economic development in local communities, and responsible financial practices. Partnerships with charities, social enterprises and community groups are extremely important. It is about enhancing knowledge sharing, providing mentoring, training and supporting people to become ‘employment ready’ through support programmes. These activities play an important role in lifting local economies and alleviating poverty.


  1. Sustainable Supply Chain Management: Ensuring that the organisation’s supply chain operates in a socially and environmentally responsible manner is essential for Social Value. This includes sourcing materials and products ethically. It also means supporting fair labor practices, minimising environmental impact throughout the supply chain, and promoting transparency and accountability among suppliers. Encouraging and enabling charities, social enterprises, SMEs to become part of the supply chain, will boost local economy and create add-on-value.


By incorporating these components into their operations and strategies, organisations can demonstrate their commitment to Social Value and contribute to building a more sustainable and equitable society. This not only benefits society and the environment but also enhances the organisation’s reputation, attracts and retains talented employees, and fosters long-term business growth.

More resources on Social Value can be found in our library. 

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