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  • Writer's picturePaul White

Our Benevolent Society

A better way of valuing the extraordinary benevolence of society is needed to provide measures on the outcomes of investment into well-being development, such that it helps bring about a systems shift from the current singular and unsustainable focus on GDP and economic growth.

Liz Truss recently used a speech to raise her concerns regarding the size of the state in the US and UK. She warned that each is becoming "social democracies by the backdoor", describing a "culture where too many people and too many businesses expect a bailout".

While bailouts have been necessary to mitigate extreme situations like a pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis, my experience of communities is that they get on and do rather than wait for a bailout.

In the UK, according to a report by NCVO (National Council for Voluntary Organisations) and the most recent Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures from 2016, the estimated value of voluntary activity was £23.9bn. In addition, the latest figures from the Charity Aid Foundation (CAF) report £10.7 billion donated to charities in 2021.

eCulture Solutions' analysis has shown that 90% of the UK charity, voluntary community and social enterprise sector activity targets individual, family, and community development and operates across all social, economic, and ecological well-being determinants.

Critically, only 26% of annual charity and voluntary community funding comes from government contracts. In the social enterprise sector, of the 54% that get income from trading with the public sector, only 20% report this as their primary income source.

The truth is we live in a benevolent society in which very many people care about a wide range of things, to such an extent there are £billions in value in the form of expertise, time, commitment, energy, and passion vested in the delivering services and solutions in support of others.

Bearing in mind most not-for-profit organisations were founded by ordinary people, it serves as a reminder that we also live in a nation full of social innovators and entrepreneurs, of people with ideas and a passion for pursuing a cause or achieving a goal that is not motivated by personal gain.

Every day, I see people and communities coming together to find innovative solutions to people's social challenges and problems, trying to find a better way.

What is needed is a measure of this social innovation, entrepreneurialism, and benevolence so that it can be better valued and become something to consider alongside the current and somewhat singular focus on the growth of GDP, a guide sadly that has only served to deliver inequality and a wealth gap, as the proposed benefits of trickle-down economics fail to materialise.

At eCulture Solutions, we have worked on developing measures for social return on investment (SROI) over the last couple of years. We aim for this measure of individual, family, and community well-being to become a measure alongside GDP to provide a more balanced view of social, economic, and ecological progress.

We are pleased to say that working with forward thinkers in the public sector, not-for-profit and commercial sectors, we have the exciting prospect of moving from a proof of concept to delivering an online solution that we hope to make accessible and valuable to all.

With these measures, delivering a better appreciation of the social, economic, and ecological value gained from the benevolence of society, we can look forward to making more significant progress through community action and attain a much more positive direction and outlook for the future development of society.

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