Total cost, year budget for intervention

Reporting the social value of an intervention or programme of work, without inputs like direct costs, staff time, or even volunteer time, will make your results less credible and hinder those trying to learn from your experience.

To take an extreme example, it may be that an employment and skills intervention has successfully moved 20 people into employment, creating substantial social value, but costing hundreds of thousands to run in the process. If that input was not sufficiently detailed, another group could try and replicate it with a lower budget, ultimately failing to create the same results and potentially wasting funds.

The input figure  must represent all of the costs incurred to produce the outcomes you are valuing in your reporting. Although you may not calculate and monitor detailed budgets for all of your projects, knowing your project costs will greatly improve your ability to make informed decisions. It is in the interests of anyone comparing different interventions that costs have at least been calculated with some consistency. For instance, an intervention being delivered externally may appear to be worse Value for Money than one internally, if costs are not consistently calculated.

HACT do not prescribe how an organisation should calculate their inputs. The Treasury’s Green Book for appraisal offers advice on what to include and how to cost it. We have also made some suggestions for inputs to include in social value reporting:

Direct Costs

  • Salaries for staff involved in the intervention
  • Material, supplies and equipment
  • Partnership funding (If you have joint-funded a project with another organisation, use one of the ‘User Defined’ columns in the Value Calculator to record this. You must use the overall budget (rather than just your contribution) to get accurate cost-benefit calculations.
  • Travel
  • In kind (i.e. free space – Your organisation may choose to either cost this at the going rate for hire or decide that this is not to be included in a budget. It is worth noting that whichever option is chosen a consistent approach is taken across the organisation.)
  • Subcontractors that provide support exclusively for your project
  • Rental costs (temporary)
  • Volunteers (this should be costed at either (i) cost of expenses if offered & resources or (ii) the equivalent market rate at for the hours volunteered)

In-direct Costs

  • Admin
  • Office resources
  • Repairs and maintenance
  • Space rented (non-temporary e.g office space)
  • Management costs (a portion of the salaries of upper managers and staff who provide admin duties)
  • Volunteer management costs (volunteer management time and resources)



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