CIC Association

Serving Community Enterprise

So – lots of CICs out there, all needing to submit an annual return to the CIC regulator on what they’ve been achieving, some who are trying to evidence their value to local authorities to support applications for rate relief, and the CIC Association itself starting to think about how it can evidence and quantify the value and impact of the movement as a whole.

I’m aware that a few people are starting to think about, and look at possible tools and frameworks that can address all of the above, and  I wanted to share that I have too – and it might be some reassurance if I let you know that I’ve been involved in similar initiatives with other sector groupings to address the same above themes as well over the last few years: supporting the development of KPIs that can be used as a ‘baseline’ to all co-operatives based on their defining values, creating a social accounting toolkit for Supporters’ Trusts, being involved with the balanced scorecard now being used by Social Firms and so on...(happy to forward links, etc to anyone who's interested)

I’ve started to spec out my thinking on this too (see attached) and it strikes me that as well as there needing to be a ‘baseline’ tool that any CIC of any size (including single director) can use to meet its local management information needs, and well as contribute to a national picture of the sector, there’s also likely interest from CICs which operate at larger scales or want to examine their impacts in more detail, for more complex tools (perhaps akin to the ‘Social Accounting and Audit’ model?).

I wonder if I can therefore offer to lead a discussion in this thread amongst anyone who’d be interested in contributing to, and developing, such a suite of tools and even lead on drafting a proposal to secure resources to formalise, test and pilot them (I’ve already done some initial research into likely grant making bodies and trusts who may be interested in supporting this).

Look forward to getting replies, comments, questions and challenges...


Adrian Ashton

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We have already done a lot of work on this, and have invested in an online tool to support any organisation that wishes to look at their social impact, and their social return on investment. We also run training sessions on impact reporting and sroi regularly. Organisations can sign up to the online tool for £250 which includes a half day training session and 2 hours of support with using the online tool. I have attached a copy of the leaflet for this.
Great,I knew there'd be a little overlap on the SROI stuff, you two should arrange a chat to see how best to bring this bit forward. Key objective for me is to get an opensource version for startups/new entrants. Another strong consideration is helping get the annual reporting process fully online. Discuss?
Tying this in with the data handling and a bit of web development should really strengthen a funding bid, im meeting CommunityBuilders tomorrow and they look like a strong potential partner for the Association, and should be relevant to a good chunk of the members.
Should we arrange a business development meeting? I can host in London but am happy to travel, Dave would want to come down from NE, if we do it in mid country we could get a good turnout of people who want to get involved but dont get down to London?
Might also be a good chance to have a public debate on the voting rights etc for the new CLG?

Also need to discuss/throw accreditation into the mix, there is a strong need for a consultancy service

blah blah, i could go on and on.....and...
John - sounds like this meeting is going to need to cover a whole range of issues... maybe would be useful to agree a provision agenda and timetable for it to help give us a better idea of when and where once we know what homework we need to think about in advance?
Hi Adrian - it can, but it doesnt need to. It can simply be two or three people in a room, or larger if more people are interested. If there's appetite i'd be happy to present, hold a Q and A on whats been done so far, but key for me is to actually get some decisions made and some actions agreed. Its time to harness some talent and get some rubber on the track! (so to speak) . It would be nice to meet anyone interested in getting involved, especially those willing to show leadership.

Im making steady progress against the short term plan and transition to the new CLG, and am doing the intro meets with the funders/foundations/banks etc so we now need to start pushing ideas into projects. There is money to back the right ideas, as long as their backed up by a strong group and relevant skills, so the quicker we can get organised the better.

What homework do i need to do???? seriously, ive read two govt reports, an Acevo guide and half a white paper already this week!!!!!!! I play where's CIC? its conspicuos by its absence........Adrian, I know your a co-op champion, why isnt that discussed more as a utility? (although the stuff that JIm Brown is doing is pretty good)

Anyway, im off..........meeting a potential funder, and im discussing this stuff as its all in hand!!!
thanks Heidi - I guess my interest in looking at what John refered to as 'open source' models is that I'm aware that based on my work on supporting groups look at (social) impact over the last 10 years or so, many feel overwhelmed by the very thought of having to look at new tools and processes, especially and its not always easy to find others who are using the same;

my work with co-opsUK, supporters Direct, etc on developing 'simple' impact frameworks that consider impacts against a 'triple bottom line' (examples of the sorts of data they caputure freely available on-line) that generate useful management info for the individual organisation, as well as data that can be easily aggregrated to a national level has indicated that if organisations are offered what appears to be a simple methodology that they can use themselves and using information that they already have easily to hand, (and in being open source means that they can easily find others who are using it to share experiences with), then there's likely to be a much greater uptake (which could only benefit the Association in starting to generate a national picture from users using the same measures and methodlogies consistently?);
what its' also indicated is that once groups start to engage at this entry level, then they're much more likely to want to progress to actively explore using other tools (such as SROI) now that they've overcome some of the self-perceived barriers to such practices.

I'm not sure what sort of outputs and data are captured by your Impact tool - would be intersted to know if they would be 'scaleable' to generate this national picture; for example, do they include a set of standard questions that are CIC specific? or perhaps could it be evolved to do so?

I'm also interested in seeing if there are any other CICs who have been exploring using different/existing approaches to get their views on this discussion as well...



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