Social impact measurement and reporting for Irish credit unions

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McCarthy, Olive
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Saint Mary's University
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In a context of almost no formalised or systematic social impact reporting by credit unions in Ireland, the aim of this paper is to explore how credit unions in Ireland conceptualise social impact, as manifested by the views of 23 credit union managers and 11 other key informants. The extent to which Irish credit unions currently report on social activities and impact is also examined through a thematic analysis of credit union annual reports and websites. The paper also aims to examine the barriers to engagement in social impact measurement and reporting and the supports needed by credit unions to engage. The research finds that there is scope for greater understanding of the concept of social impact, how it can be measured and the importance of reporting it to stakeholders. Despite a strong appetite for social impact measurement and reporting, it is not currently prioritised and credit unions are reticent about taking the first steps for reasons of time, resources, capacity, knowledge, and mindset. Many credit unions already report on activities with a social impact, but do not report on the outcomes or impact. Supports for a standardised approach to social impact measurement would be welcomed by the credit unions. The value in social impact measurement and reporting is seen mainly in helping credit unions to demonstrate the credit union difference.
Credit unions , Social impact , Ireland
McCarthy, O. (2021) 'Social impact measurement and reporting for Irish credit unions', International Journal of Co-operative Accounting and Management (IJCAM), 4 (2), pp. 4-16. doi: 10.36830/IJCAM.20217