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Social Value Canada – Newsletter May 2022

Social Value and ESG should go hand-in-hand: New from the Social Value Space

ESG & Social Impact should be used together

Written by Evan Vahouny, Chief Impact Officer at Proof of Impact, this article provides an argument for the use of both ESG and Social Impact concepts and measurements. Vahouney explains how organizations that prioritize both ESG and impact will be best positioned to create sustainable value. Read more here

ISSB New Exposure Drafts

The International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) has issued its first two exposure drafts (EDs) for comment, after announcing the creation of the ISSB standards at COP26 in Glasgow. Two EDs have been released: one covering general disclosure requirements; and a thematic ED on climate-related disclosure requirements. The comment period is 120 days, with a deadline of 29 July 2022. Make your voice heard and comment here

Social Value in Real Estate

This article written by Eri Mitsostergiou, Savills World Research Director provides an interesting perspective of social value in real estate development. ESG is a big topic in real estate at the moment but so far heavy emphasis has been placed mostly on the environmental side of it. Mitsostergiou says that the social value of real estate is about creating a positive impact for local communities and society as a whole. She argues that social value can be created and delivered throughout every stage of a building’s life cycle. Read more about this here

Help us stay up to date with social value news in Canada. Do you have a story to share with us? Let us know about your social value news here

IMPORTANT NEWS – Canadian Achievement of Level 3 SVI Accredited Practitioner

Sophia Robinson Earns Advanced Practitioner Status – Evaluating SROI for Vancouver Based Non-Profit Artists for Mental Health 

Sophia is the Director of Finance and Strategy at McLaren Housing Society of British Columbia and an independent consultant. As part of her application for Level 3 Advanced Practitioner designation, Sophia worked with Artists for Mental Health to evaluate the social return on investment for their mindfulness self-compassion pilot project. 

As a freshly minted Level 3 Accredited Social Value Advanced Practitioner, Sophia Robinson fully understands the challenges of measuring impact across a diversity of industries. 

“There are similar things happening, but your impact may be different,” she says. “And the way you measure impact for various organizations in the same space may be different.” 

Sophia’s own career as a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) includes working in a range of environments including public practice, engineering, residential and commercial leasing, software development and non-profit work. She currently serves as the Director of Finance and Strategy at McLaren Housing Society of British Columbia, a non-profit providing housing to low-income individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS. She also holds a Master of Arts (MA) in Leadership from Victoria’s Royal Roads University where she focused on social enterprise organizations 

Sophia’s journey to social value accreditation began in 2019. At the time, she was a full-time director of finance at a software company while also working with Propellor Advisors. As an Associate with Propellor, she consulted with organizations in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. This included evaluating and supporting other non-profits that focused on the area’s marginalized populations through employment programs such as a catering cafe designed to build work skills. 

“My work at the time had a lot to do with feasibility studies, determining whether they needed financing,” says Sophia. “I saw that a lot of organizations at that time were doing this great work, but were unable to measure their impact.” 

To find the tools she knew she was missing, she looked online, finding a program from Social Value UK and Social Value International: a Social Return on Investment (SROI) Accreditation Course. She enrolled quickly and made travel plans to attend in London, UK. 

“My daughter and I went on a vacation,” she says, adding with a laugh: “even though I spent two days of it on this course.” 

In addition to gaining the tools she needed, Sophia expanded on the familiar principles of materiality from her training as an accountant; these could help the non-profits that she worked with determine the value of the impact that their programs were providing to the community. In January 2020, she began working with Artists for Mental Health on a project that led her to submit her final report: Artists for Mental Health Mindfulness Project: Social Return on Investment Evaluation. 

Artists for Mental Health is a Vancouver-based organization that aims to fight the stigma around mental health in the artistic community by spreading awareness, initiating conversations, and supporting artists suffering from mental distress. 

In January 2020, the organization ran a pilot workshop on Mindfulness Self-Compassion — a practice requiring kindness and understanding of the self without judgment of inadequacies or faults. It was a practical way of addressing what the organization saw in demoralized local artists, but, as a pilot project, it needed confirmation. It was Sophia’s report that provided that confirmation. 

She projected the aggregate social value created by Mindfulness Self-Compassion workshop to a projected  £4,435 (about $7,300 CAD), with an SROI ratio of £6.48:£1. For every dollar of investment, £6.48 of social value would be created. 

Sophia’s report recommended continuing the program and aiming to expand it by partnering with other organizations. It also suggested looking at more volunteer engagement and leadership development. 

As Artists for Mental Health’s Director of Social Impact, Sophia is putting the recommendations of her report into practice by focusing on acquiring wellness partners and partnering with academic institutions.   

“I’m one of the many people who strive for perfection while wondering if the work they’re doing is truly helping people,” says Kathryn Robinson, Executive Director of Artists for Mental Health. “Sophia’s work with SROI really changed our perspective on how to measure our impact and has pushed us forward to pursue even bigger opportunities for us here at Artists for Mental Health.” 

In January 2021, Sophia left 20 years in the corporate sector behind and took on her current position at McLaren Housing Society of BC. The move briefly delayed her Level 3 Advanced Practitioner accreditation — even Sophia needs time to catch her breath — but she was ultimately able to submit her final report with notes from her assessor. Now, she hopes to develop some of the social value initiatives, teach the principles she’s learned, and continue to help and support organizations in making a social impact. 

It’s a journey,” she says. “But everything I did in the past informs and impacts what I do now.

Welcome our Summer Interns

Lara: “I am a Master of Sustainability Management student at the University of Toronto and I am eager to learn more about social sustainability and ESG reporting. This summer I will be working on both SiMPACT and SVC projects, and I am excited to learn more about the social value space and the role SVC plays in Canada’s social value movement. I hope to connect and learn from SVC’s broad network throughout the summer and I look forward to speaking to the SVC community!”

Arnaud: “I am a Master of Global Affairs student at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy with a wide set of interests from development, global governance, and recently sustainability, for which Social Value Canada will be a great learning opportunity. As the network and partnership development intern, my goal is to rejuvenate SVC’s network across all of Canada as it spear-heads the social value movement in our country!”

Cara: “I am a Master of Urban Innovation student at the University of Toronto and am looking forward to learning more about social impact measurement and the social value movement. At SiMPACT I assist with SROI assessments for different projects and I also contributed to creating this newsletter. I noticed that most of the social value news are Europe-related and I would love to know more about the Social Value movement in Canada – please feel free to share your Canadian Social Value news with me!”

Join us for our upcoming courses – only a few spots left!

June 2nd: Introduction to Social Value and SROI

This course is designed to build awareness of social value thinking, tools and practice among individuals and organizations, as well as prepare you for the SVI Level 1 exam. Sign up here 

July 11-15 and July 21: Accredited Practitioner Training

The longest standing social value course in the world, Social Value and SROI Practitioner Training is for everyone seeking to deepen their knowledge of social value thinking and application of SROI. Highly practical and hands-on, this course is essential for all applying social value thinking to their ongoing work. Full course completion satisfies one of two criteria to achieve SVI Accredited Practitioner Status, Level 2. Sign up here 

Company Spotlight: impak Finance

impak Finance joined SVC as an organizational member in February.

impak is an independent impact rating agency. The company’s primary goal is to channel capital towards businesses with a positive social or environmental impact. Their impact assessment and scoring solution is based on international standards, such as the Impact Management Project and UN Sustainable Development Goals. impak offers a user-friendly and scalable SaaS platform tailored for the financial industry.

Together with SVC, impak hopes to raise awareness of the importance of credible impact reporting and quality. They also want to bring attention to the relevance of impact reporting by corporations, government, and other stakeholders. Check out impak here