Social equity is value added, resulting from increases in service performance. An agency delivering $1 in care and effect with $1 in funding accrues zero social equity. An agency that, through changes in the effort, outcome and impact of services, is able to deliver $2 in care and effect with $1 in funding has added value and accrued social equity. Change costs money, so if the cost of the change in effort, outcome and impact was 25¢, the agency would accrue social equity of 75¢, per $1 in funding. Every agency copes with constant changes in resources, clientele and environment. The accrual of social equity is a measure of agency success in coping while improving service performance.

Social equity measures the increase in benefit for clients and funding offsets for funders, but saving money, costs money.

Rate of Accrual

Continuous increases in service performance are reflected in continuing accrual of social equity. An agency may have accrued social equity of $1 million in the past, and added another $1 million in social equity this year.

A sister agency nearby may have accrued social equity of $2 million to the beginning of the current year, and added another $2 million this year. The fact that one agency has accrued social equity of $4 million and another $2 million is less instructive than the fact that both agencies have increased social equity by 100% in the current year.

The Challenge

Social equity is a measure of value in human services. It is easy to calculate, but difficult to achieve. Measurable increases in agency effort, outcome and impact represent substantial challenge for most non-profit healthcare and social service agencies, when operating funding is limited and investment capital is virtually non-existent.