Applying Social Return on Investment to Your Shared Space

I was glad NCN was able to host a webinar on the Social Return on Investment on 8/26/15.  Jennifer Johnstone the President and Chief Executive Officer of Central City Foundation led us through the process they have undertaken to evaluate the performance of their organization.

SROI fascinates our members and it’s not surprising.  Nonprofit shared space practitioners are hungry for metrics to evaluate their work and to communicate their impact.  Members of our network run complex organizations and a single formula to measure success is intriguing.

Jennifer led us through the rationale and the techniques Central City Foundation employed to evaluate its real estate portfolio.  I found it interesting that the SROI analysis requires isolating one outcome that can be given a “proxy” value based on independent research.  Whether the outcome is reducing usage of homeless shelters, creating jobs or improving outcomes for children through early interventions, these benefits can be calculated in financial terms and compared to the cost of investment in social purpose real estate.  This results in a final SROI ratio that “communicates at a glance the net value of our social purpose real estate investments”.

Our NCN members who are not in the business of human services may have a harder time applying this technique.  Also, there are some nuances in how Central City Foundation’s tenants are organized that may not be applicable in other situations, but I was intrigued by the concept.  We know that evaluation is a high priority for our membership and we will continue to seek out best practices for our members.

Do you have an evaluation framework for shared space that you would like to share?  Please contact me to be featured in this blog series or on an NCN webinar.



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