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Social innovation means developing new responses to new or poorly satisfied social needs under current conditions by involving the participation and cooperation of the actors concerned, in particular users. This definition of the Higher Council of the Social and Solidarity Economy (CSESS) applies both to services and their distribution methods in areas ranging from early childhood to aging, including housing and health.

Actors facing two major challenges

Whether they are associations under the 1901 law, foundations, social enterprises (for profit) or non-profit structures (cooperatives, mutuals, etc.), social action actors must address, in addition to structural needs (health, housing, disability, poverty), emerging needs (aging of the population, fuel poverty, environment, etc.) which result from current developments in society. But beyond expanding their scope of intervention, they must take up two major challenges:

  1. The necessary development of multidisciplinary approaches mobilizing in particular researchers, civil society and businesses to better take into account changing needs and integrate social innovation into traditional economic circuits.
  2. The integration of new financial tools. Social and solidarity innovation is struggling to find funding to meet its needs. But financial innovation is certainly an important lever to face these difficulties, in addition to meetings between funders and project leaders, the development of mixed financing tools or access to support mechanisms for project leaders. (to formalize and structure their business plan for example).

SROI, the benchmark indicator for measuring the impact of an innovative social and solidarity project

Social Return On Investment (SROI), a concept developed in the United States and Great Britain since the 1960s, is much more recent in France. Responding to this need for new financial tools, the Social Return on Investment indicator is growing strongly. Any project with a social purpose has multiple effects on its beneficiaries, its territory and even on society. To understand, measure, evaluate and enhance the current or potential impacts of a social and solidarity project, organizations are increasingly using this tool. It can be declined in two dimensions:

  • The evaluation SROI, determined a posteriori and based on actual and already observable results
  • The forecast SROI makes it possible to anticipate the social value created if the activities generate the expected results and therefore to measure the potential impact of a project as well as the expected theoretical return on investment.

Even if their implementation remains long and complex, these SROIs are built through different stages: after having defined the scope and having exposed the change as well as mapping the impacts, it is necessary to certify the results and their assign a value, then assess the impact. Finally, all the elements are combined to calculate the SROI and perform a sensitivity analysis.

SROI is therefore a method (non-exclusive and constantly evolving) intended for organizations with a social purpose that want to understand, measure and enhance their social impact, in addition to their financial results.

Concerning the actors of social protection, the Covid 19 health crisis, with its effects of precariousness of a greater part of the population, will very quickly reinforce the new strategic dimension taken by social action and typical innovation needs SROI. These actors already had 2 levers, but still insufficiently exploited: the implementation of the High Degree of Solidarity around non-contributory services of the social action type, but also the opportunity, through “historic” social action to operate more of services and to finance it other than by the premium.

Clément Laverdine & Olivier Milcamps

CLaverdine    OLIVIER MILCAMPS 2    

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