Read out

The SROI Analysis at a Glance

The SROI analysis is currently a very widespread form of a comprehensive impact analysis. As part of an SROI analysis, a causal impact model is created for a specific project, program or organization. The effects identified in the individual impact chains are measured and, where possible, monetized.

The core of the SROI analysis is the approach of juxtaposing, as far as possible, monetary effects, of all possible interventions, activities, projects, programs or organizations, with the capital invested there. The result is presented in the form of a highly aggregated key figure, the SROI value. In doing so, it focuses heavily on the stakeholders, who receive a concrete service, which in turn triggers effects. The following figure shows this basic relationship. The following figure shows this basic relationship.

Specifically, a certain amount of money flows into a particular organization, such as a facility for advising drug addicts. These investments provide services to different stakeholders. The services provided are not ends in themselves, but do have effects. For example, assisted clients enjoy better health. As a first step of the SROI analyses, the effects must be identified and then quantified. It is therefore important to identify how many clients actually have better health.

Then, the quantified effects are expressed in monetary units by using different methodologies. As a matter of principle, when identifying, quantifying and monetarising the effects, it must always be ensured that in the case of non-existence of the observed intervention, alternative options would not have existed which would have produced the same or similar benefits and effects. If the drug counseling facility had not existed, would advised persons not have improved health? Presumably some would have been able to take alternative offers. Then, these persons are not attributed to the achievements and effects. This focuses on net effects and impact as part of the SROI analysis.

At the end of the analysis, when the net effects of the stakeholders have been collected and monetized, they are added together and compared with the invested money. This results in the SROI value, which as a key figure represents the social return in the sense of the social return of the invested capital. The basic steps of an SROI analysis according to the model Then/ Schober/ Rauscher/ Kehl (2017) are the following:

Source: Then/Schober/Rauscher/Kehl 2017: 387

Subsequently, based on previous knowledge and existing literature, it is hypothetically considered which positive and negative social effects could occur among the stakeholders. In qualitative surveys, often carried out by means of guided interviews, it is assessed whether the suspected effects actually occur and what other effects may additionally exist. In further steps, the effects are quantified and monetized. To measure and monetize the effects, meaningful indicators are assigned to them and are filled with data. In this step, verbally described effects are "translated" into different indicators. Frequently, so-called "proxy indicators or proxies" are used, which in an approximation try to quantify or monetize the effects. Proxies are auxiliary structures that do not directly map measurable and / or monetisable quantities as accurately as possible. At the end of the SROI analysis, the monetized effects are aggregated and compared to the inputs to represent the SROI value. Non-monetized effects are listed separately.

The NPO Competence Center has had a research focus on conducting SROI analyzes for many years. In recent years, numerous SROI analyzes have been carried out, many lectures and workshops held, and some publications released on the topic (e.g., SROI manual in German and a new, revised edition in English, see related literature).


Mag.rer.soc.oec. Olivia Rauscher
Olivia Rauscher
Senior Researcher, currently on parental leave
Responsibilities: Social Impact Measurements focusing on SROI analysis, evaluation, social inequality, poverty reduction, health promotion and prevention
Mag.Dr.rer.soc.oec. Christian Schober
Christian Schober
Scientific Director, Senior Researcher
Responsibilities: Work and research focus: Evaluation, SROI analyzes, financing, donation behavior, job satisfaction and motivation, care for the elderly, care for the disabled and accessibility