Steps of SAA

The SAA process consistsof three distinct steps , each of which can be seen as a distinct module , which gives specific benefits to the organization .Before embarking on the steps , there is a 'Getting Ready' stage .

Getting Ready:

This stage includes understanding the overall framework, as well as the principles and the history of SAA. Before any preparation work is done, a decision must be made about whetherSAA is something that the organisation wants to do. It also considers the implications for your organization if SAA were introduced to it, the resources required, and how you might be able to manage the process. Getting Ready emphasizes the need for your organization to make a clear commitment to SAA.

Step 1: Social, Environmental and Economic Planning

MVOA and stakeholders

Mission, Values, Objectives and Activities framework is prepared by the organization. This is a crucial first step whereby the organization reflects on its purpose and values which are inseparably linked to its activities .A stakeholder map is produced stating who the organization affects or who has an interest in it. These will be both internal and external to the organization.

Step 2: Social, Environmental and Economic Accounting

Scope, Indicators and Consultation

The second step is focused around identifying indicators and adopting suitable methods of data collection after reviewing a realistic scope .This is followed by stakeholder consultation step whereby the organization will map the information to be gathered from each stakeholder. An exhaustive step which eventually leads to data collection and analysis based on which social accounts will be prepared. Also apart from the social book keeping indicators, the organization needs to understand the economic impact, its impact on environment and ways of measuring them. The organization also needs to reflect on the following key aspects which is integral to its functioning and needs to be covered in the process.

Human Resources: How do you care for the human resources ? How do you support them?

This may include Stakeholders such as Staff, Families of Staff, Volunteers and Consultants

Good Governance and Accountability: What systems do you have? How is your democratic structure maintained? How transparent are you?

Stakeholders include Members, Trustees, Advisory Council, Members, Directors, and Management

Use of Profits: Are assets retained for the benefit of the organization/community Do you plough back profits? How?

Financial Sustainability includes reporting on systems such as Sustainability Strategy, Risk Management Strategy and Financial Accounts

Environmental Sustainability: Includes your contribution towards the environment Do you have an environmental policy? Do you run a 'Green Office'? What is your environmental footprint?

Economic Impact: includes the ways in which you can measure your impact on the economy like purchasing policies,contributions made to the community if any,direct and indirect Impacts on Local Economy.

Step 3: The Audit

Draft social accounts, Panel and Audit report

The third step includes drafting of the social accounts and presenting them to a Panel .The Panel will consist of, in addition to the chair, between two and four people who will be appointed by the organization, in consultation with the Chair. The chair of the Panel will be a SAN (Social Audit Network) certified Auditor. Members of the Panel will usually be experts in the functional areas of the organization, or would have a strong understanding of the local environment in which the organization operates. They could also be those who are familiar with the organization and its purpose, but must be in no way related to the organization directly. The key point is that the Panel must be seen to be objective and impartial and therefore the organisation needs to ensure that it appoints a Panel whose opinion will be respected.

In India, the panel process is carried out over 2 days. The first day, referred to as the 'Social Audit Trail' involves a visit to the organisation to carry out a sample check of the social book-keeping data (tracing to source) and the stakeholder consultation processes. This is conducted by the Social Auditor who then presents a report about her/his findings to the rest of the panel on the second day.The Panel meeting is likely to last for between four and six hours and will include the opportunity for both panel members and the organisation's representatives to comment overall and to go through the accounts section by section, page by page. Usually, the organisation will be represented by the Social Accountant and his/her Social Audit Group. Often the chair of the Board or Management Committee will also attend. The entire objective of the meeting is that the panel must evaluate the social accounts presented and ensure that they are 'competently gathered and reasonably interpreted'

Following the Panel meeting comprehensive notes will be prepared (usually by the Chair) covering the items noted in the social audit panel checklist. Changes would be made in the draft social accounts and the modified version needs to be shared with the chair and the panel members. Based on the modifications, a standard Social Audit Statement will be issued.

The verified Social Accounts will give the organisation a clear understanding of what it has achieved, how much it has cost to do that and how different stakeholders regard what it does. Based on the findings the organisation can:

  • Review its objectives and see if they are still appropriate.
  • Consider what other things it might do;
  • Set new targets for the next year
  • Review the information it is collecting to ensure it is still relevant and useful.
  • See if and how the stakeholders are benefiting from it.
  • Engage in dialogue with stakeholders over issues raised.
  • Make sure that the social enterprise or organisation can justify its existence!