Substance has been at the forefront of developing social impact and value models for the sport and physical activity sectors since its foundation in 2005.

Building on the team’s experience and expertise in assessing the social and economic dimensions of sport and physical activity we have worked alongside some of the most respected universities, academics and sporting entities to identify a range of measures and develop models that provide credible representations of social impact and value.

Our services What we can do for you

Our services include theories of change and outcome mapping; data gap analysis; development and implementation of indicator and measurement frameworks; building social value and SROI models; online and offline social value reporting and development of rate cards to support outcomes contracting.

Our approach is structured in a streamlined fashion whilst remaining flexible enough to be tailored to individual needs and capacities.

We can work with you end-to-end through the various stages of a social valuing project or support you with the provision of specific services.

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Theories of change describe the change organisations want to make and the steps involved in making that change happen in as concise a way as possible. Our process begins with a Theory of Change (ToC) workshop to provide opportunities for collective sensemaking across a range of stakeholders including management and operational staff; trustees; beneficiaries (for example volunteers and participants); and others with an interest in the conversation. During the interactive sessions, participants are guided through a series of exercises and discussion points focused around:

  • The Problem the organisation is trying to address.
  • The ultimate Goal(s).
  • The Inputs at their disposal.
  • The Outputs (activities, projects, work) delivered.
  • The Contribution these activities make towards intermediate personal and social outcomes.

Ultimately, accessible diagrams and illustrations are produced that help to explain the organisation’s goals and process in a visually accessible way. This is accompanied by an explanatory narrative based on evidence that justifies the approaches employed. In the context of social valuing exercises this approach also helps to establish the full range of outcomes to be valued.

Typically, following the development of a Theory of Change, although also considered as a separate exercise, we create outcome indicator and measurement frameworks. These frameworks provide a clear pathway through the:

  • Activities and ‘outputs’ (such as sessions and participant attendances) delivered.
  • Things that happen because of these activities (such as increased physical activity, improved attendance at school or increased employability).
  • Longer-term goals (such as reduced health inequalities).

Related indicators of success are then mapped to proportionate project monitoring and assessment data. These frameworks provide a robust and verifiable foundation for subsequent impact and value claims.

Social Return on Investment (‘SROI’) is a form of cost benefit analysis that attempts to quantify the social change created by a programme, policy, investment or entity. It is a particularly useful form of analysis for organisations which seek to generate positive social changes that are difficult to measure in traditional financial terms. SROI can be calculated for a single year or over the life of a project or programme, and it can be calculated summatively (i.e. at the end of a programme, once outcomes have been realised) or formatively (i.e. as a programme is underway, or prior to it getting underway).

Substance adopts a flexible approach that fits with the needs and capacities of those we work with and, linked to the Theory of Change and indicator and measurement framework stages, typically involves the following steps.

  • Establishing scope and identifying key stakeholders
  • Mapping outcomes
  • Evidencing outcomes and giving them a value
  • Establishing impact
  • Calculating the SROI
  • Reporting, using and embedding

At the heart of the process is a structured approach to determining whether any identified benefits can be converted into financial terms whilst considering the extent to which those benefits can be attributed to the work in question in order to generate a credible and verifiable valuation.


Based on diligent academic research and the application of industry standard social valuing methods, Substance has developed a digital application to enable organisations to process their own valuations using a range of templates, data collection tools and data system integrations. Scores provides a cost-effective solution to enable ongoing, comparative and scalable analysis at the level of individual programmes, organisations, umbrella bodies such as National Governing Bodies of sport or other networks.

With a range of flexible interactive reporting features enabling easy filtering of results by date, location, programme or demographic variables, Valued can be operated as a self-managed or serviced resource, depending upon the scale and complexity of user requirements.

Valued is currently configured to support valuations of:

  • Football Club Community Organisations.
  • Organisations supporting participation in sport and physical activity.
  • Sport for development organisations.
  • Leisure and Wellbeing Service providers.

We welcome the opportunity to configure the application to support the work of other providers involved in sport, physical activity and youth oriented work.

Our core social valuing team is backed up by a team of experienced researchers and data scientists to ensure the highest levels of service provision.


International and National Governing Bodies of Sport


Umbrella Organisations and Networks


Leisure Services Providers


Independent Sport for Development Charities and Foundations

Social Impact and Value Case Studies

The Social Impact and Value Team

We have a highly skilled team to deliver those approaches, made up of experienced researchers, social, sport and data scientists.

We are experienced in delivering developing social valuing models, processing complex and messy data sets and employing qualitative and quantitative research methods to deliver outputs that meet audience needs – whether that be highly engaging visually attractive summaries or detailed scientific reports for more formal purposes.

Dr Tim Crabbe
Dr Tim CrabbeChief Executive

He has thirty years’ experience of leading multi-disciplinary research teams investigating the social aspects of sport and physical activity. Alongside his core role Tim is heavily involved in company operations, leading Substance’s social valuing work alongside strategic input into our work with GM Moving, a whole systems approach to tackling inactivity in Greater Manchester, and the Chances social outcomes partnership.

He previously lead research and evaluation projects focused on the use of sport and physical activity as a social policy tool for the Home Office; chaired the consortium leading the DfE Information and Signposting Project to promote youth activities; led the research and development of Sportworks for Sported; and helped initiate and lead the Inspiring Impact programme. With a succession of publications to his name, Tim is widely regarded as one of the leading authorities in relation to the research, development and analysis of sport and activity-based policy initiatives.

At the weekend he is generally to be found riding the roller coaster that is Crystal Palace Football Club.

Luke Bullock
Luke BullockAccount Manager

. He has also worked on projects in which social change within communities through sport has been measured and the local impacts they have. Luke has a huge passion for sport, in particularly football & cricket so when not in work – he’ll normally be at the one of the ‘Old Trafford’s’ or watching at home.

Why Luke works for Substance

“Having worked as an account manager in the tech space for the last 4 year, I was keen to put my degree into practice and get back into the sporting world. When the opportunity with Substance came up, I absolutely had to go for it. The opportunity to work in the sector where my passion lies, whilst still be able to look after clients, identify new opportunities and make a difference in the social impact space was a no brainer”.

Provide a better service to your audience and society.

We can provide unbiased, evidence-based understanding, to help you adapt and grow your organisation to provide a better service to your audience and society.