• Scalability

    • in Business

      A characteristic of a system, model or function that describes its capability to cope and perform under an increased or expanding workload. A system that scales well will be able to maintain or even increase its level of performance or efficiency when tested by larger operational demands. In financial markets, scalability refers to financial institutions’ ability to handle increased demands; in the corporate environment, a scalable company is one that can maintain or improve profit margins while sales volume increases.

    Practice & Source: (1) Business/CSR: Investopedia
    COMMENTARY

    Used in philanthropy to denote the quality of a model with the financial and infrastructure characteristics that permit it to saturate a given market.

  • Scale (Noun)

    • in General

      a) A graduated range of values forming a standard system for measuring or grading something. b) The relative size or extent of something.

    Practice & Source: (1) Generic: Oxford Living Dictionaries
    COMMENTARY

    Scale is sometimes used as a shortened form of “scale up”, as in “we decided to scale the company.”

  • Scale up (Verb)

    • in General

      Increase something (or be increased) in size or number.

    Practice & Source: (1) Generic: Oxford Living Dictionaries
    COMMENTARY

    See commentary for “scale”.

  • Sector program evaluation

    • in Evaluating

      Evaluation of a cluster of interventions in a sector within one country or across countries, all of which contribute to the achievement of a specific goal. A sector includes activities commonly grouped together for the purpose of public action such as health, education, agriculture, transport etc.

    Practice & Source: (1) Evaluation: DAC/OECD Glossary of Key Terms in Evaluation and Results Based Management
  • Selection bias (Noun)

    • in Evaluating

      Potential biases introduced into a study by the selection of different types of people into treatment and comparison groups. As a result, the outcome differences may potentially be explained as a result of pre- existing differences between the groups, rather than the treatment itself.

    Practice & Source: (1) Evaluation: 3ie Impact Evaluation Glossary, International Initiative for Impact Evaluation
  • Self-evaluation

    • in Evaluating

      An evaluation by those who are entrusted with the design and delivery of an intervention.

    Practice & Source: (1) Evaluation: DAC/OECD Glossary of Key Terms in Evaluation and Results Based Management
  • Sensitivity analysis

    • in Economics

      Analysis of the effects on an appraisal of varying the projected values of important variables.

    Practice & Source: (1) Economics: HM Treasury Green Book: Appraisal and Evaluation in Central Government
  • Shared measurement

    • in Philanthropy

      Shared measurement involves charities and social enterprises working on similar issues, and towards similar goals, reaching a common understanding of what to measure, and developing the tools to do so. The aim of shared measurement is to develop common indicators and tools for specific fields or interventions to help share and compare results, methods and lessons, and to identify the most effective solutions.

    Practice & Source: (1) Philanthropy: Shared Measurement, Inspiring Impact
  • Shared value

    • in Business

      A management strategy in which companies find business opportunities in social problems.

    Practice & Source: (1) Business/CSR: Shared Value Initiative
    COMMENTARY

    Not to be confused with “shared values”, “shared value” was coined in a 2006 article by Michael Porter and Mark Kramer (and Porter’s earlier work) on the link between corporate social responsibility (CSR) and competitive advantage. Porter and Kramer argued that corporate social responsibility initiatives by companies were deficient and that instead companies need to view CSR initiatives as part of their core business strategy to boost innovation and competitive advantage. The term has been adapted to Creating Shared Value (CSV) and the Shared Value Initiative, a community of leaders dedicated to finding business opportunities in addressing societal challenges.

  • Shared values

    • in Business

      Explicit or implicit fundamental beliefs, concepts, and principles that underlie the culture of an organization, and which guide decisions and behavior of its employees, management, and members.

    Practice & Source: (1) Business/CSR: BusinessDictionary.com
  • Significance

    • IN General

      a) The quality of being worthy of attention; importance. b) The meaning to be found in words or events. c) The extent to which a result deviates from that expected to arise simply from random variation or errors in sampling.

    Practice & Source: (1) Generic: Oxford Living Dictionaries
    COMMENTARY

    It is easy to confuse the generic use of “significance” with the statistical use. When statisticians or evaluators use the term significant they generally mean that the result passes a statistical test that shows the result did not occur by chance.

  • Small and Growing Business (SGB)

    • IN Business

      A commercially viable business that has significant potential for expansion and social impact in the communities where it operates.

    Practice & Source: (1) Business/CSR: TriLinc Global Impact Investing Glossary
    COMMENTARY

    The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs note two differences between SGBs and SMEs. First, SGBs are different from livelihood-sustaining small businesses, which start small and are designed to stay that way. Second, unlike many medium-sized companies, SGBs often lack access to the financial and knowledge resources required for growth.

  • Small and Medium Enterprise (SME)

    • in Business

      The categorization SME is designed to differentiate businesses with relatively small amounts of capital and/or personnel from larger organizations, particularly in relation to market segmentation, financial assistance or regulatory issues.

    Practice & Source: (1) Business/CSR: Financial Times Lexicon
    COMMENTARY

    The criteria for defining an SME vary by jurisdiction and the defining organization and even within organizations. For example, the World Bank uses different definitions for different programs, policies, and research.

  • Social (Adjective)

    • in Generic

      Relating to society or its organization.

    Practice & Source: (1) Generic: Oxford Living Dictionaries
    COMMENTARY

    “Social” is often added as a modifier to other terms (e.g., value, business, investment etc.) to show consideration for impacts, costs, and benefits that affect people (individuals and communities) beyond those who are directly part of an exchange or involved in an activity. “Social” is sometimes used a shorthand for both social and environmental.

  • Social accounting (Noun)

    • in Accounting

      The preparation and publication of an account about an organization’s social, environmental, employee, community, customer and other stakeholder interactions and activities and, where, possible, the consequences of those interactions and activities. The social account may contain financial information but is more likely to be a combination of quantified non-financial information and descriptive, non-quantified information. The social account may serve a number of purposes but discharge of the organization’s accountability to its stakeholders must be the clearly dominant of those reasons and the basis upon which the social account is judged.

    • in Economics

      When a set of accounts is made from government figures, showing the income and spending of the various parts of the economy.

    Practice & Source: (1) Accounting: Rob Gray, Current Developments and Trends in Social and Environmental Auditing, Reporting & Attestation: A Personal Perspective, Centre for Social and Environmental Accounting Research, Department of Accounting and Finance, University of Glasgow (2) Economics: Financial Times Lexicon
    COMMENTARY

    There is not a consensus on the definition of social accounting. It is often used as an umbrella term to include any approach to taking social and environmental effects of an organization, typically business, into consideration. Most definitions include the key themes of the link between financial and non-financial performance, qualitative and quantitative measurement of social impacts, and consideration of wider stakeholder groups beyond shareholders. Some uses include environmental impacts. A rare definition is the process of developing social accounts, which are normally called national accounts.

  • Social audit (Noun)

    • in Business

      A formal review of a company’s endeavors in social responsibility. A social audit looks at factors such as a company’s record of charitable giving, volunteer activity, energy use, transparency, work environment, and worker pay and benefits to evaluate what kind of social and environmental impact a company is having in the locations where it operates.

    Practice & Source: (1) Business/CSR: Investopedia
  • Social business

    • in Social enterprising

      A non-loss, non-dividend business created and designed to address a social problem.

    Practice & Source: (1) Social enterprise: Muhammad Yunus, Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism, Global Urban Development, 2008
    COMMENTARY

    Under the Yunus definition, social businesses are a subset of social enterprises. The latter allows for businesses that are designed to achieve a social purpose alongside making a profit and distributing dividends. Such distribution is not allowed under Yunus’ definition of social business. A separate definition is that “social business” refers to businesses that have integrated digital technologies and social network technologies in their business models.

  • Social change

    • in General

      A change in the customs, institutions, or culture of a society, especially due to ideological or technological factors

    Practice & Source: (1) Generic: Oxford Living Dictionaries
  • Social Economy

    • in Business

      The segment of the economy is composed of entities that aim to increase social inclusion and reduce inequalities, while simultaneously creating economic value. Social economy organizations include different types of cooperatives, associations, foundations, mutual and social enterprises (which are businesses of various legal forms using an entrepreneurial approach in order to respond to an increasing number of social and environmental challenges. While measuring them remains challenging both at national and international levels, existing evidence suggests that they are vibrant agents assisting local and national economic development and contributing to inclusive growth and shared prosperity through job creation, re-integration of vulnerable individuals to society and the labor market, and environmental sustainability.

    Practice & Source: (1) Business/CSR: Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED) Program, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Social enterprise

    • in Social enterprising

      Broadly defined as an enterprise that puts social benefit above or at least alongside profit. Traditionally these were non-profit organizations or charities with a philanthropic purpose, but they can also be structured as for-profit entities where profit is not the only overriding concern.

    • in Social enterprising

      Any organization, in any sector, that uses earned income strategies to pursue a double or triple bottom line, either alone (as a social sector business) or as part of a mixed revenue stream that includes charitable contributions and public sector subsidies

    • in Social enterprising

      A for-profit organization that applies business principles (sale of goods and services), with the priority objective of maximizing the creation of value for society in its field of expertise. In social enterprises, the demand for profit for the owners of the organization is constrained (by statute and/or practice) by the purpose of delivering value to society. The social enterprise seeks to achieve its mission, while fairly remunerating the resources that it uses in its activities (including financial capital and human capital), seeking to identify and eliminate any negative impacts that its actions may cause.

    Practice & Source: (1) Social enterprise: Financial Times Lexicon (2) Social enterprise: A Practical Lexicon for Social Entrepreneurs (3) Social enterprise: Glossary for the Convergence Economy
    COMMENTARY

    There are some differences in definitions as to whether a business counts as a “social enterprise.” These differences include: its legal status–different countries have different definitions; the existence and priority of a social purpose; whether a social enterprise must be a nonprofit or not; and the extent to which it abides by certain principles, such as following sustainability principles and the commitment to empower the main participants in the value chain.

  • Social entrepreneur(ship)

    • in Social enterprising

      There is some debate among experts, including those offering teaching in social entrepreneurship, on what it actually is. For some, it is simply any business activity that creates social value – for example a business venture that generates environmental benefits, or provides education to underprivileged children in developing countries. For other proponents of social entrepreneurship, the focus is simultaneously on the entrepreneurship part of the term. For these people a social entrepreneur should also have launched a new company to deliver the social value.

    • in Social enterprising

      Any person, in any sector, who runs a social enterprise.

    Practice & Source: (1) Social enterprise: Financial Times Lexicon (2) Social enterprise: A Practical Lexicon for Social Entrepreneurs
    COMMENTARY
  • Social impact

    • in General

      The effect of an activity on the social fabric of the community and well-being of the individuals and families.

    Practice & Source: (1) Generic: BusinessDictionary.com
  • Social impact assessment

    • in Sustainable development

      Analyzing, monitoring and managing the social consequences of development.

    Practice & Source: (1) Sustainable development: SIA Principles: International Principles For Social Impact Assessment, Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, vol. 21 no. 1 (5-11)
    COMMENTARY

    Confusion can arise as to whether social impact assessment is used in a general way to refer to the evaluation of social impacts (see “impact assessment”) of a project or organization, or the practice of conducting social impact assessments typically prior to a planning or business decision is made. Though there is overlap, evaluators tend to use one set of methods for retrospective (ex-post) evaluations, whereas planners tend to use other methods for prospective (ex-ante) evaluations. For retrospective evaluations, social impact assessment sometimes is used interchangeably with social impact measurement, while others would separate assessment from measurement in that the former requires an evaluative judgment, whereas the latter does not.

  • Social Impact Bond (SIB)

    • in Finance

      A social impact bond (SIB) is a contract with the public sector or governing authority, whereby it pays for better social outcomes in certain areas and passes on part of the savings achieved to investors. A social impact bond is not a bond, per se, since repayment and return on investment are contingent upon the achievement of desired social outcomes; if the objectives are not achieved, investors receive neither a return nor repayment of principal. SIBs derive their name from the fact that their investors are typically those who are interested in not just the financial return on their investment, but also in its social impact.

    Practice & Source: (1) Finance/Impact investing: Investopedia
    COMMENTARY

    As noted in the definition Social Impact Bonds are not really bonds. This is one reason why in the US Pay For Success (PFS) is used instead of Social Impact Bond.

  • Social impact management

    • No clear, authoritative definition was found. See commentary and “impact management.”

    Practice & Source: None
    COMMENTARY

    Social impact management involves planning for impact, measuring social impacts, and taking corrective actions as needed. Confusion can arise from whether the “social” in “social impact management” refers to both social and environmental impact or just social. See “impact management”.

  • Social impact measurement

    • See “impact measurement.”

    Practice & Source: None
    COMMENTARY

    Social impact measurement is used simply to describe the act of measuring the social impacts of an intervention or organization. Sometimes It is used interchangeably with “impact measurement,” “impact assessment,” or “social impact assessment.” However, some note that impact assessment involves an evaluative judgment (see “assessment”) whereas measurement does not. Confusion can also arise from whether the “social” in “social impact measurement” refers to both social and environmental impact or just social.

  • Social Purpose Organization

    • in Philanthropy

      No clear, authoritative definition was found. See commentary.

    Practice & Source: None
    COMMENTARY

    Often used as an umbrella term to describe the wide variety of organizations working for a social purpose, such as nonprofits, foundations, and social enterprises.

  • Social Return on Investment (SROI)

    • in Evaluating

      A method for measuring values that are not traditionally reflected in financial statements, including social, economic and environmental factors, which can identify how effectively an organization uses its capital and other resources to create value for the community. While a traditional cost-benefit analysis is used to compare different investments or projects, SROI is used more to evaluate the general progress of certain developments, showing both the financial and social impact of the corporation.

    Practice & Source: (1) Evaluation: Investopedia
    COMMENTARY

    SROI exists within and has strong similarities to traditional cost-benefit analysis but was first documented as a distinct methodology for the social enterprise/venture philanthropy context in 2000 by REDF (formerly the Roberts Enterprise Development Fund) as a means of estimating social value creation alongside financial value and return on investment (see commentary for social value). The approach was taken up by what became the SROI Network and was later renamed Social Value International.

  • Social return ratio

    • in General

      See Social Return on Investment.

    Practice & Source: None
    COMMENTARY

    The original formulation of Social Return Ratio that was developed by Roberts Enterprise Development Fund (REDF) alongside its Social Return on Investment calculation, involved adding the net social benefits and business cash flow of an enterprise and dividing that by the total amount philanthropic dollars invested in the lifetime of the investment. This formulation is not widely adopted.

  • Social sector

    • No clear, authoritative definition was found. See commentary.

    Practice & Source: None
    COMMENTARY

    Social sector is sometimes used as a synonym for the non-profit sector, charitable sector, voluntary sector (UK), or third sector. Other times it is used more broadly to include non-profits, social enterprises, philanthropic bodies, and impact investors who seek to address social problems.

  • Social value

    • in General

      Social Value is the quantification of the relative importance that people place on the changes they experience in their lives. Some, but not all of this value is captured in market prices.

    • in Business/CSR

      Larger concept which includes social capital as well as the subjective aspects of the citizens’ well-being, such as their ability to participate in making decisions that affect them.

    • in General

      Social Value refers to wider financial and non-financial impacts of programs, organizations and interventions, including the wellbeing of individuals and communities, social capital and the environment.

    Practice & Source: (1) Generic: What is Social Value? Social Value International (2) Business/CSR: BusinessDictionary.com (3) Generic: The Social Value Portal
    COMMENTARY

    There is no consensus on the definition of social value but different definitions try to capture the value that people place on things, activities, and states of being that are not reflected in prices or by financial measures. In some uses social value is meant to stand in contrast to financial value (i.e., the value of non-financial benefits to an activity or intervention), in others it is meant to stand in contrast to private value (i.e., the value, positive or negative, to people who are not party to a transaction but are affected by it) or both.

  • Social Value International (SVI)

    • in General

      A global network focused on social impact and social value. Their members, comprised of organizations from 40 countries across a huge range of sectors and disciplines, share a common goal: to change the way society accounts for value.

    Practice & Source: (1) Generic: Social Value International
    COMMENTARY

    SVI is the result of a merger between the SROI Network and the Social Impact Analysts Association.

  • Social venture

    • No clear, authoritative definition was found. See commentary.

    Practice & Source: None
    COMMENTARY

    Often used as an umbrella term to describe the wide variety of organizations working for a social purpose, such as nonprofits, foundations, and social enterprises.

  • Social Venture Capital

    • in Finance

      Social venture capital differs from traditional venture capital in that investors look beyond financial return and risk-reward models when deciding where to place their money. Rather than placing utmost importance on return on investment (ROI), social venture capitalists seek to invest in ventures that offer profit potential and make the world a better place through their products and services.

    Practice & Source: (1) Finance/Impact investing: Investopedia
  • Socially Responsible Investing (SRI)

    • in Finance

      See definition for Socially Responsible Investment and Responsible investing.

    Practice & Source: (1) Finance/Impact investing: Glossary for the Convergence Economy
    COMMENTARY

    SRI is the practice of making socially responsible investments. “SRI”, “responsible investing”, “ethical investing”, and “impact investing” all refer to incorporating ethical concerns, social impacts, and environmental impacts in choices of investments. While sometimes used synonymously, there are differences between them. These relate to whether the filters are negative (i.e., some investments are excluded to avoid their negative effects) or positive (i.e., investments are included because they make positive contributions) and whether the filters are individualized (typically ethical investing) or systematized (typically SRI and responsible investing).

  • Socially responsible investment

    • in Finance

      An investment that is considered socially responsible because of the nature of the business the company conducts. Common themes for socially responsible investments include avoiding investment in companies that produce or sell addictive substances (like alcohol, gambling and tobacco) and seeking out companies engaged in social justice, environmental sustainability and alternative energy/clean technology efforts. Socially responsible investments can be made in individual companies or through a socially conscious mutual fund or exchange-traded fund (ETF).

    Practice & Source: (1) Finance/Impact investing: Investopedia
    COMMENTARY

    See “Socially Responsible Investing”.

  • Stakeholder

    • in General

      A person with an interest or concern in something, especially a business.

    • in Evaluating

      Agencies, organizations, groups or individuals who have a direct or indirect interest in the intervention or its evaluation.

    Practice & Source: (1) Generic: Oxford Living Dictionaries (2) Evaluation: DAC/OECD Glossary of Key Terms in Evaluation and Results Based Management
    COMMENTARY

    The definition of stakeholder is consistent across fields, but in practice there may be different views as to who counts as a stakeholder, namely who has legitimate or warranted interest.

    In recent years, several players in the sustainable development, social enterprise, and impact investing fields have begun to use “client,” “customer,” “user,” “end-user,” “constituent,” and “stakeholder” in place of “beneficiary” as part of a movement to recognize the individuals who benefit directly from an intervention, product, service, or investment as active participants, rather than passive recipients. Though each of these terms vary slightly in meaning, they are often used interchangeably.

  • Stated preference

    • in Economics

      Willingness to pay for something that is non-marketed, as derived from people’s responses to questions about preferences for various combinations of situations and/ or controlled discussion groups.

    Practice & Source: (1) Economics: HM Treasury Green Book: Appraisal and Evaluation in Central Government
  • Strategic philanthropy

    • in Business

      The practice of companies by which they target their respective charitable and philanthropic activities around a specific issue or cause that will in turn support their own business objectives.

    • in Philanthropy

      Outcome-oriented, result-oriented, and effective philanthropy. This is philanthropy where: donors articulate and seek to achieve clearly defined goals; they and/or their grantees explore and then pursue evidence-based strategies for achieving those goals; and both parties monitor progress toward outcomes and assess success in achieving them in order to make appropriate course corrections.

    Practice & Source: (1) Business/CSR: Harry Frechette, Defining Strategic Philanthropy, Citizen Polity (2) Philanthropy: Paul Brest, Strategic Philanthropy and its Discontents, in Stanford Social Innovation Review, 2015
    COMMENTARY

    The meaning of the term differs from whether it is used by a business considering its philanthropic giving or a foundation considering its approach to grant-making.

  • Summative evaluation

    • in Evaluating

      A study conducted at the end of an intervention (or a phase of that intervention) to determine the extent to which anticipated outcomes were produced. Summative evaluation is intended to provide information about the worth of the program.

    • in Evaluating

      Evaluation of an intervention or program in its later stages or after it has been completed to (a) assess its impact (b) identify the factors that affected its performance (c) assess the sustainability of its results, and (d) draw lessons that may inform other interventions.

    Practice & Source: (1) Evaluation: DAC/OECD Glossary of Key Terms in Evaluation and Results Based Management (2) Evaluation: USAID Glossary of Evaluation Terms
    COMMENTARY

    There are subtle distinctions between summative and impact evaluations, such as when the evaluation takes place, the assessment of sustainability, and the inclusion of lessons learned. Such differences may not appear in practice.

  • Sunset provision

    • in General

      A stipulation that an agency or program be disbanded or terminated at the end of a fixed period unless it is formally renewed.

    Practice & Source: (1) Generic: Oxford Living Dictionaries
  • Sustainability

    • in General

      a) The ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level. b) Avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.

    • in Sustainable development

      Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Many organizations use the following criteria to assess sustainable products, services, and other activities:
      (1) Social Criteria: Socially desirable, Culturally acceptable, Psychologically nurturing, (2) Financial Criteria: Economically sustainable, Technologically feasible, Operationally viable, (3) Environmental Criteria: Environmentally Robust, Generationally Sensitive, Capable of continuous learning

    • in Sustainable development

      The continuation of benefits from an intervention after it has been completed. The probability of continued long-term benefits. The resilience to risk of the net benefit flows over time.

    Practice & Source: (1) Generic: Oxford Living Dictionaries (2) Sustainable development: The Dictionary of Sustainable Management (3) Sustainable development: DAC/OECD Glossary of Key Terms in Evaluation and Results Based Management
    COMMENTARY

    There is unlikely to be misunderstanding over the general concept of sustainability, but there is potential for misunderstanding in use in particular cases (i.e., in what is to be maintained at what level).

  • Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB)

    • in Sustainable development

      The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board sets industry-specific standards for corporate sustainability disclosure, with a view towards ensuring that disclosure is material, comparable, and decision-useful for investors.

    Practice & Source: (1) Sustainable development: Sustainability Accounting Standards Board
    COMMENTARY

    In promoting environmental accountabilty, SASB tries to mirror the US Financial Accountability Standards Board (FASB) that establishes financial accounting and reporting standards for public and private companies and not-for-profit organizations that follow Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Thus SASB develops and promulgates environmental reporting standards.

  • Sustainable development

    • in Sustainable development

      Development that meets present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It assumes the conservation of the natural assets for future growth and development.

    Practice & Source: (1) Sustainable development: TriLinc Global Impact Investing Glossary
    COMMENTARY

    Sustainable development should not be confused with sustainable growth when used by economists to describe a rate of growth that an economy can sustain indefinitely without causing a rise in inflation. Environmentalists may use sustainable growth as a synonym for sustainable development.

  • Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

    • in Sustainable development

      The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), otherwise known as the Global Goals, are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

      These 17 Goals build on the successes of the Millennium Development Goals, while including new areas such as climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, peace and justice, among other priorities. The goals are interconnected – often the key to success on one will involve tackling issues more commonly associated with another.

    Practice & Source: (1) Sustainable development: Sustainable Development Goals, United Nations Development Programme
    COMMENTARY

    A set of 17 goals and 169 targets promoted by the United Nations to mobilize efforts by governments, non-governmental organizations, and corporations, to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind. The SDGs are not legally binding but governments are expected to take ownership and establish national frameworks for the achievement of the 17 Goals.

  • System change

    • in Philanthropy

      An intentional process designed to alter the status quo by shifting and realigning the form and function of a targeted system. Organizations, service delivery networks, poor neighborhoods, and even whole communities are often the systems targeted in these efforts.

    Practice & Source: (1) Philanthropy: Pennie G. Foster-Fishman, Branda Nowell and Huilan Yang, Putting the system back into systems change: a framework for understanding and changing organizational and community systems, American Journal of Community Psychology, 2007
    COMMENTARY

    In philanthropy and impact investing, the term “system change” is used to distinguish investments intended to transform systems from investments that fund direct services to targeted populations.