Data is powerful. We use data to answer questions, understand problems, and arrive at better solutions. But when stakeholders are interested in different indicators, it’s no easy task to determine the kinds of data to gather in the first place.
The Global Value Exchange, a free online resource developed by the UK chapter of Social Value International, aims to elucidate how organizations can gather social impact data. Ben Carpenter of Social Value UK presented the Global Value Exchange (GVE) platform and its tools to a group of 15 attendees at the last DataStorm. GVE users can access a myriad of metrics for social impact, as well as input their own. The crowdsourced database, browseGVE, allows users to search thousands of outcomes, indicators and valuations measurements. myGVE guides users in collecting the kind of data that can not only improve a project, but can communicate social value to investors and funders. Lastly, with myGVE portfolio, users can manage the social value of multiple projects by creating a public portfolio with a shared outcome framework. All three layers of GVE are designed to help organizations build the groundwork for effectively capturing the social impact and social value of their work.
In creating Global Value Exchange, Ben and his team recognized the tension between top-down “standardized” data and bottom-up “bespoke” data. Standardized data and bespoke data are often at odds because they are defined by different audiences for different purposes. Bespoke data is gathered from interactions with people affected by a project, such as staff, volunteers, and project partners. Therefore, it is uniquely tailored to offer insights into the organization that can result in better decision-making. On the other hand, standardized data, often tied to funding, is requested by investors, board and other external audiences. This type of data is part of an established shared outcome framework and is often more broadly defined.
Focusing on one type of data can be limiting; the question is then, can an organization gather one set of data while benefiting from advantages of both?
With GVE, Social Value UK is well-positioned to be the bridge between bespoke data and standardized data, helping organizations shift from one to the other and satisfy reporting requirements. They can also offer advice to funders on how bespoke data is not an obstacle, but is rather exciting and useful. Merging bespoke data and standardized data into one measurement would drive down the costs of data collection, while simultaneously providing useful information to both organizations and funders.
To further strengthen this bridge, GVE should continue to do two key things:
- Integrate other tools: There is no need to reinvent the wheel! By incorporating other platforms, GVE can be a more resourceful tool for its users. For example, GVE is collaborating with Keystone Accountability to incorporate the Feedback Commons, a tool that teaches organizations to how to collect and manage feedback data. However, more is not always better. As the two teams collaborate to improve the tool for their shared audience, it is essential to consider user flow and tailor the tools depending on users’ needs and tech capabilities.
- Price intelligently: Currently, GVE is free for anyone to access and use. As GVE adds more tools and resources, Social Value UK should consider establishing tiered payment schemes. For example, Ben and his team are in the process of developing a new API which would allow project level data to be drawn down and pulled in. GVE can price the API according to the type or quantity of information the user requires.
Global Value Exchange is a great resource for people looking to gain insight into how to measure social value and social impact. With Social Value UK at the helm, GVE also creates a community that can level the balance between top-down standardized data and bottom-up bespoke data to better account for and maximize social value. Want to stay involved? Reach out to us at [email protected] if you’d like to learn more from Ben and his team. Contribute your thoughts below and check back here, on the Feedback Labs Blog, for updates on how we help drive this momentum forward.
Ben Carpenter is operations manager for Social Value UK. He oversees the development of online resources specifically the Global Value Exchange and the Social Value Self-Assessment Tool. He also manages the assurance & accreditation services for Social Value International. Ben is part of the OECD working group on Social Impact Data, a member of WBCSD’s redefining assurance group and sits on the judging panels for the SE100 index and FSI Social Impact awards.
Before working for SVUK Ben worked in Property Development, Social Housing Asset Management and the Homelessness Sector. He also holds degrees in Politics & Communications and the Built Environment.
DataStorms, a stream of our popular LabStorms, are collaborative brainstorming sessions designed to inspire open dialogue around collecting, analyzing, storing, and exchanging feedback data. Facilitators relate lessons and challenges that feedback data may bring in return for thoughtful ideas, suggestions, and informal peer-review from our community.