For many groups the taking on of a building, park or land can be the realisation of a vision, the product of years of slogging away managing small pots of funding, or the grasping of an opportunity that arises in their community. The hope then is that this will become an asset to the community that is well used and valued by members of that community.
That said, nothing happens without people. Without people, the bins don’t get emptied, the heating isn’t turned on, refreshments aren’t made, the doors aren’t unlocked and the organisation isn’t managed. A building can be used to hold activities, raise funds and lend against the value of. Without investing in people it can be very difficult to achieve the groups objectives.
It is said that to give a person a fish you feed them for a day but to teach somebody to fish is a way of feeding them forever. Developing people as assets not only feeds them forever but it feeds the whole community. The strength of community groups is the impact that they have on people’s lives. Many groups however don’t measure their impact and wouldn’t know where to start.
Social Return On Investment (SROI) is a method of measuring social impact from a group or project. SROI is able to assign a monetary figure to social and environmental value which is created by the activities of the group.
For example, a retired person that goes into the local school to help children to read is enhancing the education of the child. They are also contributing to their own mental well-being. In addition to this they are freeing up school staff to undertake other tasks. This kind of activity will also contribute to the economic prosperity of the local community as children leave schools with a higher level of education. All of this activity has a monetary value and Social Return On Investment is a way of putting a price on the activity.
People are assets and like buildings and land, they benefit massively from investment, The investment can be in time (mentoring/coaching) or in training. Volunteering is also an investment in the person volunteering, as well as the organisation that is offering the placement. Before organisations and institutions invest in buildings and land, they should think about investing in the people that will manage the physical asset.