Posted June 1, 2013 in

Measuring Social Return on Investment for Community Schools

The Finance Project and The Children’s Aid Society, June 2013

Case Study
Full Guide

The Children’s Aid Society (Children’s Aid) contracted with The Finance Project (TFP) to conduct a study to determine the social return on investment (SROI) of the New York City-based children’s charity’s community schools. An SROI calculation is a relatively new approach used to capture social value by translating outcomes into financial and nonfinancial measures. It differs from a traditional cost-benefit analysis because it is a framework for exploring an organization’s “social value,” both in dollar terms (“social profit”) and qualitative impact. The goal of the case study is to better understand the impact of the community schools operated by The Children’s Aid Society on students, families, and the school community. It analyzes “value” not only in terms of improved outcomes, but also through additional revenues generated and costs avoided using an SROI approach. This approach looks at the total monetary benefit derived from social investments relative to the monetary costs of those investments.

The guide provides a step-by-step approach to measuring SROI and using the analysis to inform investment decisions. It offers examples to help community school leaders implement the outlined steps. It also suggests questions to ask and provides tips to ensure success in conducting an SROI analysis. In addition, the guide includes two major resources: an inventory checklist of outcomes and indicators by key stakeholders and a list of financial proxies that can be helpful in determining the value of community school programs and services.