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What does social impact mean for you?
"To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan but also believe" - Anatole France
I find myself talking about social impact a lot, and I get asked about it in my workshops; not always in a direct way, but more in terms of people questioning whether what they’re doing is making a positive difference in the world, so I’ll share some questions for you to take away and think about.
I’m really interested in the topic, and I think it underpins a lot of what’s already being done, not just in the third sector, but across all sectors, as well as being the basis for many partnerships and individual pursuits.
It’s pretty straightforward to define what social impact means, so I don’t want to talk about that specifically. I’m more interested in what social impact means for you – whether as an individual, group, not-for-profit, charity or business.
Social impact is about making positive changes that solve, address or contribute to social injustice, world problems or community issues.
This is a consideration for all businesses, for profit or not-for-profit, across all sectors, because at its core, the concept of social impact is about ‘why’.
Why do you do what you do, and why does it matter?
What are you trying to do or achieve?
A business can answer this through their processes, operations and activities. It’s about doing more, making a difference, caring that what you do has positive consequences.
They need to consider who they are impacting: their customers, partners or stakeholders, as well what they are impacting: the environment, circumstances or issue.
It matters for customers, clients and beneficiaries too. People are beginning to care more about where their money goes, which organisations they support, which businesses they help to sustain, and the values and actions of the people running those businesses and organisations.
How do your personal values affect your actions?
When I talk about what a not-for-profit organisation is, I describe it as a business that aims to do something other than make a profit for its owners. Usually that 'something other' is to do good, make a positive difference, create a social impact.
What drives you, beyond making a living for yourself or a profit for your business?
However, the idea of social impact is not just for charities and social enterprises. This is important for individuals too. It can determine how you spend your time, your skills and your expertise. It can be about how you share your experience and how you interact with others.
It’s the ‘why’ behind your motivation and the ‘how’ behind your strategy.
What is the short-term and long-term impact of what you’re doing?
I’d love to know what social impact means for you, either as an individual or a business. Please feel free to comment below.