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Social Return on Investment

By 8 March 2019Community

Summary by: Courtenay Boulton

Inn from the Cold supports the creation of numerous positive social outcomes for families, including increased safety, wellbeing and hope. These outcomes are created by a combination of temporary emergency shelter and housing programming that helps families stabilize themselves in crisis, regain and retain housing, and prevent future episodes of homelessness.

While anecdotal evidence and basic assessment of program efficiency suggest that Inn from the Cold is creating significant value for families and communities, in 2018 Social Return on Investment (SROI) practitioners at Constellation Consulting Group were hired to conduct a full SROI assessment of Inn from the Cold’s shelter and housing programming. The SROI analysis of Inn from the Cold leverages existing research on family homelessness and has used the internationally standardized SROI methodology advanced by Social Value International

SROI analysis provides a framework for measuring and financially valuing social and economic outcomes from organizations like Inn from the Cold and provides a method for telling the story of change and value created by investment in such organizations. The end result of an SROI analysis is a ratio that compares investment to the financial value of social outcomes that are achieved, showing – in monetary terms – the financial benefit of social investments.

The SROI analysis found that: For every dollar invested in the operation of Inn from the Cold’s shelter and housing programming, nearly five dollars in social and economic value is created.

This ratio suggests that significant social and economic value is created by providing shelter and housing for families experiencing homelessness. This value is experienced by multiple stakeholders, including adult clients, children of adult clients, various levels of government, landlords, and the communities in which they reside.

The SROI analysis revealed that approximately 62% of the social and economic value generated by Inn from the Cold goes back to children and their families (clients of Inn from the Cold) who experience important changes in their safety and wellbeing (mental, physical and spiritual).

Approximately 37% of the value generated by Inn from the Cold goes back to the government in cost reallocations such as reduced emergency system use, reduced Children’s Services time, decreased foster care placements, decreased justice system costs, decreased education system costs, and reduced hospital use. In other words, for every dollar invested in operating Inn from the Cold’s shelter and housing programs, nearly two is generated for government due to decreased service use.  

While the community as a whole benefit from decreased service use that increases efficiency and reduces costs to taxpayers over time, an additional 1% of the social and economic value from Inn from the Cold goes specifically to landlords and communities, who experience more positive tenancies and improved neighborhood quality.

Download the executive summary here, or email