Unity Housing Case Study – It gets better the more you use it

Posted on the 13th February 2019

“Give it a crack and see how it performs, you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised! Talk to other users as you take the journey.”

Would you give me a quick overview of your organisation? Unity Housing Logo

Unity Housing is an Adelaide-based, not-for-profit Community Housing Provider. We provide a broad range of housing options across South Australia. Our tenants include people affected by homelessness, older people and people living with disability, refugees and asylum seekers, people leaving the criminal justice system, women and families affected by domestic violence, and people experiencing mental health issues and other challenges. We also provide homes for people who simply cannot afford appropriate housing in the private rental market.

Why did you choose the ASVB Calculator to measure your social value?

We looked at the range of models and approaches to measuring social value that were being used both domestically and internationally. While Unity already collected data to meet the requirements of quality assurance/management bodies such as the National Regulatory System for Community Housing; National Affordable Housing Agreement (NAHA); DCSI reports; Board and management reporting etc. there was a need to have a broader approach that gave ‘hard’ data and was both rigorous and cost-effective to use. The ASVB calculator met these criteria.

How does our tool help your team or organisation achieve its objectives?

It gives us data in a form that is not readily available through any other model or ‘off the shelf’ program. It also monetises the data in a way that we simply would not have the ability to do without the calculator.

While Social Return on Investment (SROI) offers more detailed outputs and other data our organisation simply does not have the capacity to invest in SROI. The ASVB offer a realistic alternative that is still sufficiently rigorous.

How do you and your team currently use the ASVB?

We initially took one program and trialled that. We learnt a lot along the way and then had it independently verified. We then moved on to other programs within the organisation. We now have a rolling plan to gather all the required information and enter it into the calculator.

We have started using the data for planning purposes and to raise awareness of the real social impact we are having.

Describe your experience in using the Value Calculator tool in practice to create Value Statements?

It was difficult to start with. We formed an internal working group that included representatives from each part of the organisation. With the first program we trialled, the cohort we tried to measure was too small. The next one was too big and the one that worked was just right.

Now we understand the linkages between the outcome; measuring what changes as well as the cost inputs. It is now much easier to use.

What has changed for your organisation as a result of measuring your social value with the ASVB?

We have a stronger culture of data collection. We are now able to confidently provide accurate data to our board/executive that is in a form they have not previously had. ASVB data has also been used to brief new ministers on the outcomes we are achieving for our tenants.

What are the main benefits of using the ASVB in your opinion?

The main benefit is that we are able to improve the services to our tenants knowing that it is based on good data. Once the inputs are understood and you are confident they are accurate then it produces rigorous data that can be used to inform all sorts of decision-making.

The cost of collecting and entering the data is affordable for an organisation of our size. We don’t need a team of data people just a small group who can extract what is needed. The price structure for the licence is also fair and reasonable.

What is your advice to others who might be considering our impact measurement solution?

Give it a crack and see how it performs, you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised! Talk to other users as you take the journey.

How would you describe our product if you were explaining it to a friend?

A way of doing cost-benefit analysis without having to do all the critical background work necessary to produce reliable data.

Final comments or feedback:

We are about to enter our second year of using the ASVB calculator. It gets better the more you use it.

Interview with Michael White – Community Strategy Manager Unity Housing

Further Reading

Learn how to calculate your social value in 3 steps…

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