Social Accounting and Audit

Social accounting and audit helps you prove, improve and account for the difference you are making.

Starting with that in mind, it helps you to plan and manage your organisation as well as demonstrate what you have achieved.

Social accounting and audit is a logical and flexible framework which enables your organisation to build on existing documentation and reporting systems and develop a process so that you can:

Prove! - account fully for and report on your organisation’s social, environmental and economic performance and impact;

Improve! - provide the information essential for planning future actions and improving performance; and

Account! - be accountable to all those you work with and work for…

Through social accounting and audit you will understand the impact your organisation has on people, the planet and the way you use resources.  It will also help you manage your organisation and improve your effectiveness.

Social Accounting and Audit can be used by any organisation, whether voluntary, public or private sector, and of any size or scale.

Social Accounting and Audit uses eight key principles to underpin its process, ensure verification is effective and deliver continuous improvement. These are:

  • Clarify Purpose
  • Define Scope
  • Engage Stakeholders
  • Determine Materiality
  • Make Comparisons (benchmarking)
  • Be Transparent
  • Verify Accounts
  • Embed the process

The process for undertaking SAA can be broken down into stages:

PDF document of the stages of SAA.

Thinking it through… Securing commitment within the organization and ensuring an understanding of the purpose and benefits of social accounting -essentially, ensuring ‘buy-in’.

Step One – What difference do we want to make? Ensuring that the vision, mission and values are clear. Ensuring internal objectives are being met. Clarifying the objectives. Identifying stakeholders and key stakeholders.

Step Two – How do we know we are making a difference? Understanding and identifying indicators and outcomes. Confirming the scope and planning the social accounts.   Putting the plan into action and obtaining data and the results from consultation with stakehodlers.

Step Three – What is the difference we are making? This involves drafting the social accounts – either in basic or advanced format. The data gathered in step two are used to report on performance, impact and key outcomes, comparing them to targets and benchmarks where appropriate.

Step Four – Can we prove we made a difference? This is the audit stage where the draft accounts are tested by the Social Auditor and the panel. The Social Audit statement is completed and signed off, the Social Report finalised and a Summary produced if required.

Throughout, the work includes the use of succinct checklists and reference to work that would already be being undertaken within the organisation, to promote economy of effort. SAA is supported with a comprehensive Prove, improve and Account! Guide to Social Accounting and Audit with links to resources and tools. The outcome of the process will be a document that staff, Board and external stakeholders can use to see the value of the activities covered.

The process once in place provides a consistent mechanism for strategic review, and provides a framework for the development and institution of outcomes-based monitoring and evaluation.

Further information on Social Accounting and Audit and access to case studies can be accessed from:

Training in SAA in Scotland can be access via the Social Enterprise Academy:

If you wish to discuss SAA contact or in Scotland Alan Kay