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It is incumbent upon any organisation to continually question its relevance, its rationale for its convictions and the value it delivers economic or otherwise. This is as important for a social action enterprise like Sewa Day as it is for a profit making, commercial endeavour.
Since the last independent Impact Report on our activities was published around two years ago, Sewa Day’s volunteering force has grown from 15,000 in 2011 into 50,000 in 2012. We also extended our global reach by being present in over 20 countries. This has meant that measuring our impact has become more important than ever and not surprisingly (with our growth) has become a more complex task, calling for more sophistication in the tools that we use.
The three core tenets remain the same: alleviating hardship, improving the environment, bringing a little joy where none exists. We want people to donate their time, not their money. We’ve always highlighted community cohesion and inter-social strata bridge building as a fourth, implicit agenda item for Sewa Day. Fostering better ties between people from different community groups can only be a good thing (and as this EPG report shows, adds economic value too).
Thank you to Pratik Dattani and the team at Economic Policy Group for compiling this insightful report. Gauging social impact is difficult and complex. There are many amorphous, intangibles involved. As I’ve said previously, if we were a commercial endeavour, you’d apply discounted cash flow or enterprise value modelling techniques and produce a number “x”. How do you measure the impact of a project like Sewa Day on society or even on an individual? Moreover, there are no globally recognised standards in measuring social impact. However, it’s an evolving discipline and impact reporting in this space has evolved with it.
For example, in preparing this report, great effort has been made to incorporate the recommendations and findings from the 2011 Impact Report. EPG wanted to ensure the results of this study are as robust as possible e.g. we have several thousand data points this time compared to the several dozen last time around.
We also opened up our organisation, without reservation, to our evaluators to produce an independent, warts an’all look at Sewa Day. The results continue to affirm our belief that Sewa Day adds a huge amount of value to society.
EPG’s analysis shows that Sewa Day 2012 generated an SROI (Social Return on Investment) of £2.60 for every £1 invested. Further extrapolations in EPG’s report show that Sewa Day 2012 potentially generated up to £11.7m of value. I’d certainly be more than happy with a 260% return from my personal investment portfolio, any day.
Ultimately, the success of Sewa Day will be judged by the smiles we bring to people’s faces, the improvements to the environment that we bring about, the feelings of fulfilment that our volunteers obtain and generally by the promotion of peace in our society. If the underlying economics uphold our suppositions, then all the better.
Check out the infographic below. Read the report. Join us on October 6 this year. Be the change.
Arup Ganguly, Chairman