Stone Soup Consulting, a social consultancy firm
Who would have thought, thirty years ago, that a consultancy company could help achieve social objectives?
Traditionally, people have tended to distrust consultancy companies. The image they generally projected was that of a group of people who, generally in exchange for large sums of money, provided a rather confused service. They supported other organisations, helping them improve their strategies and operations, but it was not always very clear whether the advice given was actually useful to the company that requested it. The perception was similar to that of a psychiatrist sitting his patient down on a sofa and waiting for him to talk, without prompting him, until the patient himself discovers the source of his problems and is finally able to face up to them. In the end, whom is the patient actually cured by (if they are cured at all)?
There are many reasons why consultants suffer from this (often erroneous) image, and why it is so persistent.
One of the main reasons may be that, once the requested job has been carried out (for example, the creation of a strategic plan), the consultancy firm leaves and loses contact with the organisation, without discovering whether the service they provided was truly of use to the client.
In other words, consultancy firms do not measure their real impact on the entities they work for.
In Spain today, there are hundreds of consultancy companies offering support to organisations interested in creating a social impact, be it directly or indirectly. Even the large multinational consultancy firms, such as PwC or McKinsey, have begun to work in this field. However, at the moment, we do not know how many of these consultancy firms really help generate or improve the social impact of the organisations for which they work.
This is something that Stone Soup Consulting wants to change. As a company whose mission is to help increase the impact of organisations and projects serving the third sector, we believe that it is our duty to measure our own impact. Our impact is measured in two ways: on the one hand, we analyse a posteriori the organisational improvements we help our clients to develop and, on the other, we check (using annual surveys) whether our work has managed to increase the social impact of the organisations that have hired our services.
For us, this process is essential, since the social character of our mission is at the very heart of our company’s identity.
Thanks to our multicultural network of over 20 consultants (Spanish, French, Portuguese, Argentinian, etc.), we work throughout Europe and North Africa on projects aimed at organisational improvement, measuring social impact, scaling up social initiatives and creating social business plans and models.
For example, we are working with ESADE on the design and implementation of the Momentum Project (www.momentum-project.org), a landmark project for us, since it has allowed us to work on the development of a programme that deals simultaneously with the social business model, social impact and scaling-up issues. We have therefore been working in tandem with ESADE’s Institute for Social Innovation team since the project began in 2011, not only on the creation of the tools required to implement the Momentum Project, but also on the provision of direct support to the 20 business ventures that have benefited from the project to date.
In addition to working with ESADE, we have collaborated with a wide variety of entities (companies, foundations, non-governmental organisations, public bodies and social enterprises), always aiming to help them increase their social impact.
In Spain, we have collaborated with entrepreneurs from Ashoka, the Pasqual Maragall Foundation, the Jaume Bofill Foundation, the Creafutur Foundation, the Union for the Mediterranean, Barcelona City Council, etc. Moreover, we support initiatives by social entrepreneurs we can identify with, as in the case of UpSocial! (www.upsocial.org).
Finally, we feel that we are particularly aligned with the values of the impact investing sector, which prioritises the concept of investment that yields social or socio-economic benefits, long-term intervention, and the need to strengthen the skills of the social organisations supported. This is why we are members of the European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA, www.evpa.eu.com).
Thirty years ago, strategy consultancy and social mission were two irreconcilable concepts. Today, the reality is very different, since the social mission transcends the borders of the so-called “third sector”. Stone Soup Consulting is proud to be part of, and play an active role in, this growing movement.
If you would like more information on Stone Soup Consulting or wish to join our community, please consult our website (www.stone-soup.net) or our LinkedIn profile (www.linkedin.com/company/stone-soup-consulting). See you soon!