Jeremy Wyatt

SROI in baby steps…

Jeremy WyattPrincipal Consultant and Managing Director of Hall Aitken

When I’m not being a consultant at Hall Aitken, I moonlight as Executive Director of a theatre, obviously. In that context I met a few days ago with a key social investor. Now I’m not saying the meeting was easy – but the figures made sense to him (they do) and he really liked our project (it’s fantastic). The one query he raised about our business plan (other than more figures, for more years) was:

“I was surprised to see you are using SROI. That’s usually pretty complex and expensive, you know.”

Not the first time, or the second, or even the hundredth time I’ve heard that comment. Interesting to hear it from someone used to asking for pretty extensive, complex and costly financial projections.

So why do so many people think SROI is expensive and time consuming? Simple. It’s because that is the message they’ve received. It’s part of the real (as opposed to intended) SROI brand image, in the UK at least.

Why? Well the three big things the SROI Network seems to do, to outsiders at least, is a complex guide, a heavy (costly) two day training course and a challenging (costly)assurance process.

But most people can’t jump from a standing start to being experts – and they turn away when they think this is the route they must take.

Instead newcomers to SROI need to feel valued; they want to try it out without committing to lots of time, effort and cost. They don’t want to feel stupid.

They need a self assessment tool to tell recognise how much they already use the SROI principles. They need a short (and that means a couple of pages) explanation. They need some practical suggestions on how to do a bit more SROI than they are at the moment.

And that’s what we’ve got. A draft outline at the Munich SROI conference has now become a fully functioning web tool and guide. Find out more at “Capturing and understanding value” at 09.00 on Friday in Milan. Or go to the SROI Network website.

By the way, I think my theatre, with an expected annual turnover of £2 million, £millions of public money and the stewardship of a 110-year old iconic community asset is worth a bit a more than a cursory assessment. And so we will end up with a fully assured annual SROI report. Just saying.

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