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How to help non-profits unleash their impact

Sophia Robinson is a Chartered Professional Accountant and consultant with extensive experience in the for-profit, social enterprise and charity sectors. She is one of Canada’s few Level 3 Advanced Social Value Practitioners and she completed an assured SROI (Social Return on Investment) report for Artists for Mental Health in Vancouver, BC.  

Sophia is currently working as a Director of Finance and Strategy for McLaren Housing Society of British Columbia where she supports organizations to communicate and enhance their social impact. Its mission is to provide safe, secure and affordable housing and support services for individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS to increase the opportunity for improved health, wellness, independent living and sense of community. 

What was your motivation for becoming an Advanced Social Value Practitioner? 

I believe what motivated me the most was wanting to help non-profits and other organizations to help value the work that they were doing. I was consulting on a casual basis for various nonprofits on the Downtown Vancouver East Side (DTES). Many organizations were doing great work; however, the measurement of this value was not communicated to key stakeholders. I believe this passion to help others helped to motivate me to complete the Level 3 Advanced practitioner accreditation. 

How have you applied the training, and social value thinking, to your work? 

In my work today, I am evaluating some measures and metrics that could be used. We are currently developing a strategic plan and direction. I hope that my skills and knowledge will help with developing value-based impact performance metrics that can help my organization in the housing sector. 

What’s an exciting project you’re currently working on? 

I currently volunteer with Artists for Mental Health depending on what projects that they are working on. I hope to help them value the impact of those projects.  

My SROI report was also based on this organization. If you would like to find out more about the mindfulness project for a pilot program that was done, please access the report here. 

Social Value Principle 8 “Be Responsive” has been a late addition to Social Value Principles. What does this principle mean to you?  

I believe Principle 8 is important. As Social Value practitioners, we would like our work to be valued and we are hopeful that stakeholders within the organization [commissioning an SROI] can respond to both the beneficial and non-beneficial outcomesThis can help make changes within the organization for those stakeholders impacted. 

What excites you about Social Value Canada and our mission? 

I am thrilled to see that Social Value is becoming more known in Canada and I believe that as Canadians there is more work to be done in this sector. In today’s changing landscape, it is important that we look for ways to change the way society accounts for value.

Why is it important to build a practitioner network across the country? 

This will help support the members who are working through the Social Value accreditation process. It is great to have a support network which will allow us to provide insight and help as new members work through the challenges and questions during this process. It is also a good way for Social Value Canada to empower practitioners through this network.