Social Impact Assessment for Social Service NGOs Guideline and Protocol (Ver.1) May 2014

Chapter 1 Introduction

In the past two years, The Hong Kong Council of Social Service (HKCSS) and ExCEL3 Project of The University of Hong Kong have collaborated and ventured into an exploration of Social Impact Assessment (SIA), hoping to identify major concepts, framework, and method of conducting SIA in the context of social service NGO sector. In addition to organizing seminars and conference to bring together interested parties and experts in SIA, HKCSS has attempted a number of SIA on social service projects and consolidated experiences in conducting SIA practically. This Guidelines and Protocol represents this effort of consolidation, trying to outline the conceptual framework on SIA and delineate the principles, guidelines, and protocol of conducting SIA. It is expected that this can serve as a conceptual and practical reference for NGOs to conduct practice-based SIA and for academic institutions interested in SIA.

Chapter 2 Social Objective and Stakeholder Engagement

In this Chapter, we shall start our discussion on the cornerstone of SIA, namely, social objective.   As briefly mentioned before, the problem of the “social” embedded in the concept of social objective makes stakeholder engagement an inevitable and inseparable topic of discussion in deliberating social objective.  We therefore are going to discuss both concepts together.

Chapter 3 Objectives and Outcome Measurement

Any social programme or project is supposed to be guided by its theory of change, in which the implementer specifies what are expected to take place with a specific set of inputs and actions.   Operationally, in assessing the social impact, we need to assess whether and how the programme objectives and the social objectives are achieved before we can account for the social values of the programme.    This Chapter will mainly focus on how programme objectives and outcome can be measured operationally.

Chapter 4 Accounting for Value and Impact
Outcomes often are not easily intelligible to the general public while public intelligibility is actually very important for SIA.  Remember, we start our process with an attempt to address a social cause, with a certain social objective in mind.
Some programme may be concerned with some intangible goods like self-esteem, self-efficacy and so on, which may be good outcomes in itself but may not be perceived as relevant, unless they are translated into something intelligible with reference to the original social objective.  The question core to this part of SIA is: what do the outcomes of the programme mean?
In this Chapter, we will start from Theory of Change to Theory of Accounting.

Barrow, C. J. (1997). Environmental and social impact assessment: an introduction. London: Arnold.

Becker, D. R. et al. (2003). “A participatory approach to social impact assessment: the interactive community forum”. Environmental impact assessment review. 23(2003): 367-382.

Becker, D. R. et al. (2004). “Social impact: a comparison of technical and a participatory application of social impact assessment”. Impact assessment and project appraisal. 22(3), 177-189.

C. O’Faircheallaigh. (2009). “Effectiveness in social impact assessment: aboriginal peoples and resource development in Australia”. Impact assessment and project appraisal. 27(2). 95-110.

Marielle Rowan. (2009). “Refining the attribution of significance in social impact assessment”. Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, 27(3), September 2009, 185 – 191

NEF consulting. (2009). “ Overview and Methodology” . [accessed on 21 March 2014]

Nicholls, Alex and Emma Tomkinson. 2013. The Peterborough Pilot Social Impact Bond. University of Oxford.

The SROI Network. (2012) “The SROI Guide” . [accessed on 21 March 2014]

Triangle Consulting Social Enterprise Limited. (2009) “The Development of the Outcome Star”. [accessed on 21 March 2014]

UNEP. (2002). EIA training resources manual.

US Department of Commerce. (1994). Guidelines and principles for social impact assessment.

US Department of Commerce. 1994. Guidelines and principles for social impact assessment.

For inquiry about the guidelines and protocol, please contact

Mr. Anthony Wong,
Business Director
(Policy Research and Advocacy)