In addition to developing and testing innovative solutions to addressing the issues and challenges around farmer wellbeing, another unique aspect of FARMWELL is that it assessed the cost-benefits of these Social Invitation Solutions (SIs).
The framework used to assess the cost-benefits in FARMWELL was Social Return on Investment, or SROI for short. An internationally recognized framework, SROI lends itself well to grassroots SIs as it is focused on outcomes, and is driven by stakeholders. Outcomes are important as they allow us to explore, measure and place a value on the changes that happen to people’s lives as a result of an intervention – in this case being a range of SIs addressing real, live local issues including mental health, employment inclusion and gender empowerment.
SROI is doubly useful in the case of FARMWELL in that it has allowed estimates of social cost-benefit to be produced both retrospectively and prospectively. In other words, we have been able to look back to estimate the value that has been produced, and look forward to produce some estimates of the value that will be produced in the future as a result of SIs that were piloted in the project.
Two SROI-derived reports have been produced in FARMWELL. The SROI guide is designed to facilitate the future application of SROI in similar projects in the future. It has been written to enable a wide audience of novice and budding SROI practitioners to apply the methodology to their own grassroots projects, identify potential or achieved outcomes and come up with some metrics of change – and value – that are likely to be helpful in securing funding for future initiatives, and in maximising the effectiveness of their SIs –  or comparable projects. From undertaking a Journey of Change to understand how your stakeholders benefit, through designing survey indicators to capture this change, to valuing the change using a range of financial proxies – the FARMWELL SROI Guide is there to support, guide and inspire you.
The SROI Synthesis Report serves three functions. First and foremost, it reports the metrics derived from 13 SROI models that have assessed the cost-benefit of a range of SIs – 7 to evaluate the impact of SIs that have been running for a while (evaluative SROIs), and a further 6 that forecast the impact of solutions that have been piloted in FARMWELL, and are just getting off the ground (forecast SROIs). Second, it takes the SROI experiences and findings of the SROI process in FARMWELL and translates them into lessons learned to facilitate future application of SROI in this area, and recommendations for policy and practice that may seek to improve the wellbeing of farmers and wider rural communities through the application of innovative solutions such as those evaluated and tested here. And third, it represents an example of how the methodology described in the SROI Guide has been applied in a set of real life, diverse, and often challenging situations.