An Introduction to Social Return on Investment


Social return on investment (SROI) is a new and controversial evaluation method. It is widely applied in the UK, Europe, and many international development settings. Demand for it in the US is rapidly growing. What is SROI? It is one application of valuation, representing the value stakeholders place on program impacts in monetary units. Specifically, SROI compares the value of impacts to the cost of producing them. It is strongly associated with social enterprise, impact investing, social impact bonds, value­-for-­money initiatives, and other efforts that combine business thinking with social betterment. In this hands-­on workshop, you will learn the basics of how to conduct an SROI analysis. We will approach the method with a critical eye in order to plan, use, and interpret SROI effectively. You will leave the workshop with a better understanding of how to incorporate SROI into your practice, and how to engage clients and stakeholders in its implementation.

You will learn:

  • how to interpret an SROI ratio
  • how to estimate SROI ratios
  • to consider the strengths and weaknesses of SROI and how SROI applies to their work
  • to bring greater critical thinking to the interpretation of SROI reports
  • to use SROI to give voice to diverse stakeholder groups
  • to use SROI more effectively for funding decisions


John Gargani was recently elected the 2016 President of the American Evaluation Association. He is President and Founder of Gargani + Company, Inc., a program design and evaluation firm located in Berkeley, California.

When he is not helping nonprofit organizations, foundations, corporations, and government agencies achieve their social missions, he is writing about evaluation, sharing his thoughts at, teaching graduate classes on social entrepreneurship and program design, speaking at conferences around the world, and conducting workshops to train the next generation of evaluators.

Over the past 20 years, his work has taken him to diverse settings, including public housing projects, museums, countries adopting free market economies, and 19th century sailing ships. He has designed innovative social enterprises; directed large-scale randomized trials; and created novel technologies that measure how people think.

He holds a Ph.D. in Education from the University of California at Berkeley, where he studied measurement and evaluation; an M.S. in Statistics from New York University’s Stern School of Business; and an M.B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.

You can contact him by email ( or phone (510.291.4226).






Some evaluation experience


Sunday, June 5 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm

Link to CE competencies for evaluators

  • Examines organizational, political, community and social contexts
  • Develops reliable and valid measures/tools
  • Analyzes and interprets data
  • Identifies the interests of all stakeholders
  • Attends to issues of evaluation use
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