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Hidden Value: Demonstrating the extraordinary impact of women's voluntary and community organisations

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Women's Resource Center & New Economics Foundation
Publication Date: 
1 Nov 2011

Excerpts from the executive summary:

Women's organisations "seek to improve the status and situation of women". Embedded in communities, women's organisations work with many of the most marginalised and vulnerable women within society. They have a unique reach within communities and fill essential gaps in statutory provision. As the ‘net beneath the net,' women's organisations meet the needs of marginalised women and provide them with a public voice.

This Social Return on Investment (SROI) analysis is the first study of its kind that measures the social value and impact of specialist domestic violence provision and other specialist women's services. The report highlights the far reaching benefits of the services provided by women's organisations and the significant savings they create to the State, local economies and communities. It outlines the important role of the women's voluntary and community sector and draws attention to the need to fund specialist services for women and support the financial sustainability of women's organisations.

The report calls for recognition of the value of women's organisations across a wide range of sectors. The women's organisations featured in this report are drawn from diverse specialisms including education, employment, training and sexual violence support. The report seeks to raise awareness of the value of specialist women's organisations both within and beyond the area of violence against women and girls and highlights the need for women-only services, particularly those that are led by and for ethnic minority women.

Hidden Value: Demonstrating the extraordinary impact of women's voluntary and community organisations urges commissioners and policy makers to recognise the value of the women's voluntary sector and understand that supporting women supports families and wider society.

With the current economic crisis putting increased pressures on public finances and with funders looking for greater evidence of ‘value for money', it is essential that women's organisations are able to demonstrate and communicate the economic, social and environmental value that they generate.

This research seeks to inform commissioners and policy makers about the vital work and diversity of women's organisations and how investment in these services provides an effective way to address some of the most challenging issues in our society.