SAS 900, a vital standard posted by ICAI, empowers Social Auditors with direction for supporting platforms that enhance the non-profit ecosystem through fundraising and capacity building. This concept targets the development of social enterprises, emphasizing the increase of knowledge, skills, resources, and more. Its significance lies in helping organizations and communities to adapt and thrive in our rapidly changing world.
Process of Social Audit
The SAS offers insightful advice on who the SA should contact in order to gather data for its effect assessment assignment, including but not limited to:
- Direct stakeholders e.g., social enterprises carrying on the work of strengthening non-profit ecosystem in fund raising and capacity building
- Target population/ beneficiaries of the direct stakeholders
- Indirect stakeholders e.g., Funding entities, Government and related institutions, media agencies, academic institutions, professional groups (legal, accounting, compliance, etc.)
- Monitoring Agency
- Staff (full time/part time employees, consultants, etc.)
- Board of advisors/trustees/directors
- Key officials of the reporting entity
When conducting surveys and collecting sample data, the following factors should be considered to assess relevance and reliability:
- designed by an in-house team or external specialized agency
- conducted by an in-house team or external specialized agency
- coverage: number and types of non-profit entities served
After data collection, the SA should thoroughly review the data, which can include conducting physical inspections and one-on-one interviews to better understand the situation.
The social audit process under this SAS involves the SA asking key questions of themselves and the people involved. These questions form the foundation of the Social Impact Assessment Report. These questions could include:
- Did the non-profit entities attend the training/workshops/convenings, have access to knowledge materials, and receive advisory services on strategy, fundraising, programmes?
- Do they think differently after the training/workshops/convenings, knowledge?
- Did they learn something they did not know?
- Did they use/apply the knowledge and gain from it?
- Did they share it with others?
Such inquiries may touch on the following topics in respect to helping other platforms that assist the non-profit ecosystem by strengthening fundraising and capacity building:
- Needs of the social enterprise – Whether they were found consistent with the needs/challenges of the social enterprise?
- Quality of support services
- Gather Suggestions / Feedback
Likewise, there are many other questions that need to be identified by the SA.
Key Metrics: Framing and Assessment
The SA will follow the results of this evaluation in coming to their report’s conclusion. They will be able to evaluate the performance of the social enterprise based on its social impact after collecting all the data and analyzing the important parameters. These grading inquiries could cover the following topics:
- What would have happened to social sector incubates or Research development projects in the absence of the support services (workshops/training/convening’s, knowledge materials, advisory services, etc.)
- How much have the support services from ecosystem entities contributed to the changes that are evidenced?
- Is there any unintended negative impact that happened due to the offerings made by ecosystem entities?
Few points in respect to the beneficiaries covered under this survey –
- Geography (location covered), thematic areas and beneficiaries served by the supported non-profit entities including beneficiary organizations led by and/or serving marginalized communities/groups
- Range and nature of support provided by indirect stakeholders viz., funding entities, government and related institutions, media agencies, academia, corporates, etc.
- Process by which capacity building needs and/or participants in training/workshops were identified
- Selection process of social enterprises for the trainings/workshops including steps taken to ensure inclusion of organizations led by and/or serving marginalized communities/groups
B. Training/Workshops/Convening aspects
- Relevance & usefulness of capacity building and information dissemination services
- Nature of capacity building and information dissemination services imparted
- Duration of trainings/workshops/convenings and its sufficiency
- Accessibility of capacity building services
- Subject matter of the capacity building services
- Certification for workshops/trainings/convenings
- Assessments for workshops/trainings
- Trainers/Facilitators competencies
- Quality of the content/information delivery mechanism
C. Other factors
- Status of non-profit entities before receiving capacity building services
- Improvement in (but not limited to)
(a) Organisation and Programme Strategy
(b) Organisation Development and leadership building
(c) Resource mobilization
Assessment of evaluation criteria
The Social Auditor needs to recognize evaluation criteria of both Qualitative and Quantitative for assessing the impact.
Some key aspects that can be considered as evaluation criteria are listed below:
- Financial and non-financial resources mobilised / catalysed / influenced
- Government resources catalysed / influenced
- Numbers of givers/volunteers mobilised / catalysed / influenced
- Membership of giving networks and collectives created or strengthened
- Government policies / schemes influenced in programme impact areas
- Quantum of grants disbursed
- Access to funding for social enterprises serving or led by marginalised groups and communities
(B) Capacity building
- Number of non-profit entities incubated
- Survival rate of supported start-ups
- Increase in rate of growth of supported start-ups (in funds raised, impact delivered)
- Number of social enterprise whose programme or institutional capacity strengthened
- Training/workshop hours
- Net Promoter Score of participants
- Access to capacity building support for social enterprise serving or led by marginalised groups and communities
- Number of social enterprise with defined strategic plans
- Number of social enterprise with defined governance norms, human resource policies and practices
- Enhanced representation of marginalised groups/communities in governance structures, leadership and decision-making processes
(C) Contribution to building new knowledge on the non-profit sector and philanthropy
- Number of initiatives facilitated to enhance discovery, dissemination, deployment of knowledge and skills; access to such initiatives especially for organisations serving or led by marginalised groups/communities; participant rating of the effectiveness of the initiatives
(A) Capacity building
- Evidence of increased organisational capacity: changes in People, Process and Tools
- over baseline in a functional area (Product, Technology, Machine & Equipment and impact, Finance, People, Learning & Development, Fundraising, Advocacy etc);
- Evidence of operational excellence: Improvements in making and meeting commitments, Improved cost per unit impact, Maturity of internal practices such as management of data, financial auditing, employee engagement and retention (possibly measured by CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration) or other maturity assessment framework)
(B) Contribution to building new knowledge on the non-profit sector and philanthropy
- New, enhanced data availability on the social enterprise and/or its composition, distribution, resourcing and impact
- Curriculum design and/or delivery across functional areas of social enterprise management
Challenges/ Areas for improvement
Based on their suggestions and input, which may have an impact on the impact assessment, the stakeholders’ difficulties and areas for improvement should be identified by the social auditor.
- Attribution of impact between the platform/service provider and the social enterprise benefiting from their services
- Unavailability of adequate funds among non-profit entities for availing support services from ecosystem entities
- Absence of norms on fees that can be charged for facilitating fundraising opportunities
- Limited connected and organized networks of social enterprise
- Limited availability of well-documented data from social enterprise
- Indirect nature of the services provided e.g., research and other knowledge products widely disseminated, policy changes impacting wider population groups
- Cases of no-response in case the questionnaire is not administered in person
- Some of the questions being skipped by the respondents and remaining unanswered
- Non-availability of respondents after completion of the workshops/trainings/ convenings, advisory services, etc.
- Change in contact details of respondents due to which they could not be contacted
Any significant challenges or limitations observed must be highlighted by the SA in their report.
Any social enterprise if it wants to reach to a large number of people needs to have adequate capacity and infrastructure. Thus, platform which provides such services shall play a large role in the endeavour. As a Social Auditor it is important for us to review that contributions in such platform are being done in the right manner.