In light of recent interest in SROI, SiMPACT shares our response to the social implications of the #torontobudget brought forward by the author Margaret Atwood in the article: Margaret Atwood fights against closure of Toronto libraries
An excellent article that articulates the social implications surrounding financial cut-backs. Libraries and other cultural centers are more than just places of opportunity. They bring people together to create community cohesion that is necessary and vital for many individuals, families and those who are at-risk of social isolation.
Although the 350+ people who patiently waited to speak to Mayor Ford at the Toronto budget hearing spoke from their heart, it seems there is an assumption being made that social value can’t be quantified. We disagree.
Increasing use of the Social Return on Investment (SROI) methodology illustrates how to value the results of investment in social programs and infrastructure that supports and strengthens communities. An SROI of a library, for example, would examine three forms of value - financial, social and environmental. The municipality of Calgary for example, has been committed to a triple bottom line since 2005, and is now taking steps to include an assessment of social and environmental value, alongside financial value, in all aspects of corporate decision-making.
It is only when you integrate the three elements of sustainability impact (financial, social, environmental) that a more complete picture of value creation is formed. Although the City of Toronto has some hard decisions ahead, there are tools that can value the implications of budget cut-backs in terms that illustrate that cost and value are linked but not interchangeable. These tools will assist any leader to ensure that long term strength is not jeopardized by short term decision-making.