Paul Courtney paper on how to measure social values published in Voluntas

Professor Paul Courtney

Recent legislation in the UK has placed an expectation on social purpose organisations (SPOs) to consider, monitor and evaluate the societal value they generate. However, meaningful engagement with the Social Value Act by the third sector is relatively low, which reflects both conceptual and methodological shortcomings.

Paul Courtney has had a paper published which describes a programme of action research which has developed a user-friendly tool to assist smaller SPOs to explore, evidence and value the benefits that they produce for society. Conceptualising social value through the lens of the localism, personalisation, deliberative democracy and social innovation agendas, the paper describes the process and experience of applying a Social Return Assessment tool and the lessons learnt for the three SPOs involved, the third sector, and for commissioning bodies. Recommendations reflect the need for a standardised monitoring and evaluation framework tailored to specific third sector interest groups and networks.

The reference of Paul’s paper is:

Courtney, P. (2017) Conceptualising Social Value for the Third Sector and Developing Methods for Its Assessment. VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 1-31 DOI 10.1007/s11266-017-9908-3. August. Online First:

The Public Services (Social Value) Act came into force on 31 January 2013. It requires people who commission public services to think about how they can also secure wider social, economic and environmental benefits.