• Our work

    Eurodiaconia links diaconal actors to examine social needs, develop ideas and influence policies impacting Poverty and Social Exclusion, Social and Health Care Services and the Future of Social Europe.

    Eurodiaconia also provides a platform for transnational networking and best practice sharing.  

     

  • Our vision

    As the leading network for diaconal work in Europe, we look to develop dialogue and partnership between members and influence and engage with the wider society.  We do this to enable inclusion, care and empowerment of the most vulnerable and excluded and ensure dignity for all.

     

  • Our goals

    We aim to see a positive social change in Europe through:

    Praxis, enabling membership engagement and partnerships

    Advocacy, creating a network of competence to impact policies at European and national level

    Identity and values, supporting the development of approaches and thinking on Diaconia in Europe today

     

Calendar Wednesday, May 27, 2015
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Other social policies

The EU budget, including the European Social Fund

Eurodiaconia works with partners to ensure a strong social agenda and therefore a strong budget for social issues. In this work Eurodiaconia is specifically working to facilitate access of not-for-profit social service providers to the European Social Fund and to broaden the Fund's scope to address social exclusion and poverty, by proposing changes to the programme.

Measuring growth and well-being
Eurodiaconia has produced a briefing on the discussions about how to move "beyond GDP" indicators to measure societal progress. Eurodiaconia is in contact with ecumenical partners to examine how to promote indicators that take into account more than just economic output.

Measuring Social Value
Eurodiaconia has published a briefing for members on tools to measure the added social value and economic impact of an organisation’s activities. Knowing the social value an organisation creates through its services can help justify funding as well as support advocacy for investing in social services.

Community Engagement and Development
Eurodiaconia co-organised a project, managed by interdiac, on examining methods and theories of community development, engagement and orgainising in diaconia. More information about the on-going work can be found in the articles below.

Social Economy
Eurodiaconia wrote a briefing looking at how the social economy is defined by different actors, and looks at different types of social economy activities. It includes a section on Work Integrating Social Enterprises. Eurodiaconia held a workshop at its 2011 AGM and conducted research among its members to understand how the social economy is seen in diaconia and how it can be supported as the European Commission discusses promoting the social economy, particularly in the light of the Social Business Initiative. This led to a discussion document for members which invited feedback and will link to Eurodiaconia's meeting on the Social Economy in June 2012.

Social Innovation
Innovation is currently one of the EU's buzz words. Within this the European Commission is promoting social innovation, in terms of supporting and facilitating the mainstreaming of innovative ways of meeting social needs. Eurodiaconia is taking part in the discussions at EU level with partner organanisations to ensure that actions publicised are carefully evaluated and really are examples of social innovation, as well as that tools for evaluation and scaling up of innovations are promoted.

NEWS



Conference debates role of private finance in the social sector

19 February 2015

A conference addressing “Social impact investing and its role in in future social public/private investments brought together stakeholders from government, NGOs, finance and academia on Monday 16th February. The first part of the conference focused on the recently published G8 report Impact Investment: The Invisible Heart of Markets: Harnessing the power of entrepreneurship, innovation and capital for public good.

Two recommendations from the report that resonate with Eurodiaconia positions are that governments and foundations should consider establishing capacity-building grants programmes to boost social sector organisational capacity and to give “Profit-with-Purpose” businesses the ability to lock-in their social mission. One speaker expressed concern that financers were moving faster than the social organisations; this lack of capacity risks leading to an undue infulence of the financial sector on the operations of NGOs. Another recommendation of the G8 report is that governments should consider streamlining pay-for-success arrangements such as social impact bonds. Speakers expressed concerns about the encroachment of such “pay-for-success” models in the welfare sector because of the risk of “creaming” of contracts that are easier to be succesful with and that it is difficult to measure "success" in working with very vulnerable individuals.

The general feeling among participants and speakers was that private finance should be complementary to public finance, that public authorities must maintain their responsibility to ensure access to social services. In some countries, the group that elaborated the country report for the G8 doucment lacked the involvemnt of NGOs, but in Germany the BAGFW was able to engage in the drafting. The German report summarised their opinion on the role of Social Impact Investing as suitable for financing measures that work for the prevention of social problems, innovation in the social sector, and scaling up of succesful practice. Numerous people mentioned the need for blended capital, different types of finance for different situations or stages of development of an organisation. A common challenge was finding investors for the start up phase of an organisation.

In France, optional company savings accounts that invest in social enterprises have achieved a great success. The National Advisory Board promote further devlopment of social savings products, the setting up of a reference framework for impact measurement and supporting foundations to move towards venture philanthropy. Italy has a law on equity crowdfunding and has recognised a social lending platform as a payment institute. In the discussions around the EU Banking Union they advocate for people in inclusive finance to be part of its development, and developing social investment bonds should be considered. In many countries there has been a growth in intermediaries managing funds, which means that the investors are further away from the organisations being invested in, and there is a decrease in understanding of the organisations being financed, with the risk then that standard models are used to measure the impact of organisations.

 The conference was organised by the Social Platform, Confrontations Europe, the BAGFW and the EESC. An article by the BAGFW (in German) can be found here

 
Seminar examines "Measuring the effectiveness of philanthropy"

12 February 2015

On the 5th February the ESOMAR Foundation organised a seminar entitled “Measuring the effectiveness of philanthropy”. It aimed to examine what role market research could play in impact assessment of charities’ and associations’ activities.

Tris Lumley from NPC, New Philanthropy Capital, presented on "effectiveness in philanthropy - the urgent challenge". He mentioned examples of where organisations had been using approaches that had been proven not to work in other situations, therefore stressing the need for careful evaluation of the outcomes and impact of their work. He felt that market research could support NGOs in evaluation in the essential task of listening to their service users, or constituencies, helping them to understand the big picture of the peoples’ lives that they work with. He believes that more education is needed of all stakeholders to emphasise the importance of evaluation, and assessing impact particularly. An overview of different assessment tools and where they could fit in along the lifecycle of a project or evaluation process can be found on slide 32 of the presentation.

He mentioned the challenge NGOs often experience that funders don’t cover the costs of overheads or research, as well as funders’ desire for novelty that means effective projects may lose funding after one cycle. These add to the risk that fundraising or sustainability becomes an end in itself, and also promotes competition for resources. Tris argued that NGOs must collaborate more, and consider mergers to avoid duplication of efforts. He also spoke of the need for “value chain thinking”, whereby organisations with different expertise work together with people at different stages of their life, or needs. In the same vein he argued for the need for NGOs to work together more in terms of influencing priorities at national level.

Ludwig Forrest from the Roi Badouin Foundation talked about the importance of figures for promoting the work of NGOs, as the media loves figures. He felt that the philanthropy sector is mature enough to see that there is a strong positive impact to funding a whole organisation, rather than just projects of the organisation. He also stressed the importance of not comdemning failure, but learning from it. At the Roi Badouin Foundation they have an award for the "best failure" to ensure organisations are still willing to take risks.

In discussion participants and speakers talked of the need to avoid "reductionism" of impact assessment to just economics or figures, and that there was a need to look at global impact aims such as found in the Europe 2020 targets. The Commission believes that a reduction in early school leavers was due to the emphasis put on this topic by the Europe 2020 strategy.

 
Eurodiaconia guidelines on social impact assessment published

8 January 2015

Eurodiaconia is pleased to publish a document entitled "Guidelines on social impact assessment" which can be downloaded here. It aims to assist members to better understand social and economic impact assessment and consider if such assessment methods, or elements of them, might be useful for their organisation. The document also outlines some concerns that exist about impact assessment/measurement, and how some of these concerns could be addressed. It gives information about some of the main tools available and proposes some issues to consider when considering different tools. Some member organisations have carried out social and economic impact assessment or are developing the use of impact assessment tools and this document also includes their experiences to inform other members. Finally it also includes information about EU level activities in this field of impact assessment/measurement that may have an influence on how impact measurement is viewed and what type of impact assessment is promoted.

There is increased interest both from funders, governmental and private, and service provider organisations, to show the impact of their work. This is partly due to financial pressure on public authorities in the context of the financial crisis, leading them to be more demanding on the services they finance. There is also increased interest from private finance to invest in social enterprises. Finally, individual donors are increasingly interested in understanding the impact of their donations. This has led to a growing interest in concepts such as ‘social return’, social value, social and economic impact, and increased interest in the assessment of these.These were the drivers behind the production of this document. For further info of questions please contact Laura Jones in the secretariat.

 

This document aims to assist members to better understand social and economic impact assessment and consider if such assessment methods, or elements of them, might be useful for their organisation. The document also outlines some concerns that exist about impact assessment/measurement, and how some of these concerns could be addressed. It gives information about some of the main tools available and proposes some issues to consider when considering different tools. Some member organisations have carried out social and economic impact assessment or are developing the use of impact assessment tools and this document also includes their experiences to inform other members. Finally it also includes information about EU level activities in this field of impact assessment/measurement that may have an influence on how impact measurement is viewed and what type of impact assessment is promoted.

 
Conference in Rome proposes strategy for the social economy

27 November 2014

A conference in Rome last week gathered around 200 participants from across Europe to debate the topic "Unlocking the potential of the social economy for EU growth". Many issues of relevance for Eurodiaconia members were discussed in workshops, including The role of EU Structural Funds for supporting the Social Economy, The contribution of research, education and statistics, Financial instruments and intermediaries and Collaborating with the public sector: public procurement and not only. Laura Jones spoke in the workshop on public procurement on behalf of Social Services Europe, stressing the importance of quality social services, investment in the sector and the job creation potential.

The workshops developed recommendations which fed into a strategy to promote and support the sector. It states that a coordinated, shared and active engagement on the part of all the actors, including both public institutions and social economy organisations is necessary. The Rome Strategy can be read here.

The conference was also preceded by a consultation, to which Eurodiaconia responded based on its policy paper Social Enterprises for Social Inclusion. Numerous areas of interest to Eurodiaconia are addressed in the strategy. They call on the European Commission to propose a strategy to support the sector, to include it in the Europe 2020 strategy, to publish guidelines on public procurement so auhtorities know how to use it to support the social economy, to proceed careful with social impact measurement innitiatives to ensure it really supports the sector and to promote social investment.Other recommendations include to promote collaboration among actors and management skills in the sector.

 

 
European Commission publishes study on social enterprises across Europe

25 November 2014

The European Commission has published an in-depth study outlining the main features of social enterprises in 28 EU Member States and Switzerland using a common definition and approach. It also gives an overview of social enterprise "eco-systems", or policy and legal frameworks, across countries, including factors constraining and promoting their development. The study found that only eight countries (Bulgaria, Greece, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Sweden, and United Kingdom) have a policy framework in place to encourage and support the development of social enterprises. However, social enterprise policy is being developed in seven countries (Ireland, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, and Romania).

This study is pitched as the first stage in developing a comprehensive map of social enterprises in Europe and the Commission is inviting feedback to expand their knowledge of the reality of social enterprises in the EU and Switzerland, via an online feedback form.

The study follows up on the Social Business Initiative launched by the Commission in 2011 (see here for Eurodiaconia article on this). 

Barriers faced by social enterprises identified by the study include:

  • poor visibility and recognition of the sector,
  • the constraints of current legal and regulatory frameworks,
  • limited financial resources,
  • difficult access to markets,
  • and the lack of business support and development structures, training, and workforce development.

These points reflect a number of issues raised by Eurodiaconia members that were featured in Eurodiaconia's recent policy paper "Social Enterprises for Social Inclusion". Eurodiaconia will read the report and work on an analysis, so encourages members to read their country report and to let Laura Jones know if it is an accurate reflection of the situation and any additional comments they may have by the end of the year.

The study was based on existing academic materials and interviews with more than 350 stakeholders across Europe. It was supported by a team of five independent academics who provided methodological support, conducted peer reviews and reviewed the final report.

 
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