Critical Meta-Evaluation of Social Return on Investment (SROI): Evaluator, Economist, and Accountant Perspectives on Evaluation Design, Part 1

Oct 28, 2016 4:30pm ‐ Oct 28, 2016 5:15pm


Social return on investment (SROI) is a form of evaluation that promises to stimulate funding from both public and private sources for programs that prevent or remediate human suffering and fulfill human potential. By connecting societal resources with evidence-based programs, SROI attempts to guide private investors and corporations as well as governments “… to do well (in investments) by doing good (in aiding fellow human beings).” SROI can be critiqued as being a new version of existing forms of cost-inclusive evaluation, i.e., cost-benefit analysis, with more stakeholders. Evaluators, advocates, providers, and consumers who conceptualize human services as entitlements may fear that funding for critical services will end unless those services are found to return not only more than they consume, but more than competing programs. This panel orients participants to these issues, starting with definitions, then examples, and finally issues of primary concern to evaluators and program planners.


  • Kathryn Cooney, Lecturer in Social Enterprise and Management, Yale University
  • Joe Cordes, Professor, Dept of Economics, George Washington University
  • Robert Louis Fisher, Research Professor, Case Western Reserve University


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