Social Return as an investments in social initiatives

By Giancarlo Carboni (Manager Bureau Social Return Amsterdam)

Several neighborhoods in Amsterdam face persistent and interconnected issues. In the coming years, Amsterdam is working on improving the quality of life for its residents in Zuidoost, Nieuw-West, and Noord (the 'three neighborhoods'). The long-term approach is outlined in the Zuidoost Master Plan, the National Together New West Program, and the Noord Approach.

Social return als investering in maatschappelijke initatieven (Bureau Social Return)

Social return

During major procurements, the Municipality of Amsterdam asks its contractors for a social contribution in addition to executing the contract: social return. This can involve labor participation and/or education for individuals facing employment challenges ('labor participation') or socially procuring from one of the recognized Amsterdam social enterprises.

Alternative implementation of social return

It is increasingly common for contractors to choose to contribute to a societal initiative in one of the three aforementioned neighborhoods. This can involve promoting labor participation and education, as well as addressing poverty, inclusivity, debt relief, and health-related issues. The condition is that the (SR) investment made by the contracting parties (time, knowledge and expertise, money) genuinely benefits and has an impact in one of the 'three neighborhoods' for the people living there. Here are some examples: [link]

Submitting a project plan for a social initiative

If CONTRACTORS wish to invest in a societal initiative, the Bureau Social Return Amsterdam requests a pre-assessed, concise project plan in which at least SMART is described:

  • What the goal and target group are for the societal initiative to which a contribution is being made or (self-)organized in one of the 3 neighborhoods;
  • How the initiative is 'anchored' in one of the neighborhoods, who is involved from the neighborhood or municipality;
  • What the goal and/or added value of the programming or supported activity is for the target group;
  • What investments in time, money, or resources are required from the contractors;
  • The intended/expected result of the programming or supported activity;
  • What the contractor wishes to declare as social return (expressed in monetary value).

Bureau Social Return has a format for preparing a project plan and can provide assistance. If multiple parties are involved in a project or if it concerns a long-term investment through collaboration (PPP), then the entire business case is described, and the interrelationships are documented in a (partner) agreement. There is also a format for this.


If you are a contractor in Amsterdam and want to learn more about the possibilities to support a societal initiative in Amsterdam, please contact Bureau Social Return Amsterdam at

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