iDE’s Commitment to Social Return On Investment (SROI)
Renewing our aim to generate a global average of $10 in client income for every $1 we deploy.
iDE’s system for tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) is pioneering, with a level of rigor and consistency that sets a high standard in our sector. Our commitment to monitoring and evaluation does not end with donor-mandated requirements, but is critical for decision-making. We're able to track and analyze three metrics across the entirety of our organization. The KPIs include 1) Impact: the increase in annual household incomes, 2) Scale: the number of new clients we serve, and 3) SROI: the social return on investment.
For every dollar we deploy, our SROI indicator tells us how much social impact is generated, in terms of increased income for the clients we work with. It provides feedback to our teams on how impactful our programs are. This helps to trigger important conversations related to the design of programs, partnerships, and project interventions within each unique context. For eight of the last nine years, we’ve hit and exceeded our ambitious SROI “promise” of returning $10 or more for every $1 we deploy.
Our statement has been as follows:
iDE guarantees an average social return on investment of a minimum of $10 in annual income or livelihood savings for every dollar we deploy.
However, it’s important to note SROI is a global average with considerable variability across countries and projects. Some projects and country offices have a higher SROI, and others lower. This variability is caused by some factors within our control, and some that aren’t. It’s a combination of length of time, maturity of the model, scale and consistency of funding, complexity of the markets where we work, and the type of programming being implemented. At the same time, iDE is increasingly implementing multi-sectoral programs that don’t lend themselves to measuring impact in terms of increased income only. For example, our newer work in building equality and empowerment, food security and resilience, as well as environmental sustainability, is not currently quantified in monetary terms, nor is it included in our SROI calculations.
What is included in SROI is represented in this graph and shows how the KPI has gone up and down over time, and where it is now:
In mid-2021, our SROI dipped below 10 for the first time since we began measuring it. Today, it is hovering at 9.1. The new figure is prompting us to take a fresh look at our 10:1 promise and renew our aim to get our SROI back above 10.
We’ve refined our statement as follows:
iDE strives for an SROI global average of $10 in annual income or livelihood savings for our clients for every dollar we deploy across our global portfolio.
Reviewing this longitudinal data is an opportunity to reflect on the contexts we’re working in, the kind of funding we need, and the models and interventions we’re implementing. Having variability in our KPIs is important to us because it demonstrates they are sensitive enough to measure differences across time and place, which allows us to identify challenges, learn from our successes and make important programmatic pivots. We don’t want our SROI to turn into a vanity metric. We want it to be useful. Having metrics that are sensitive to change, even if that change is negative, is important to us.
We will continue to be transparent about our global performance data with regular updates on our website and by providing detailed descriptions of how we track, measure, use and share our global KPIs. We calculate SROI on a 3-year rolling average, and publish an update every quarter following our global board of directors meetings.