We increasingly hear the terms ‘social impact’, ‘social value’, ‘public benefit’ being used in the media and by organisations from all sectors.  But what do they mean and, perhaps more importantly, what does a world full of social impact actually look like.

© Media Mates Oy / iStock

© Media Mates Oy / iStock

I use the following definition of Social Impact:

“the effect of an activity on the social fabric of a community and wellbeing of individuals and families.”

This definition is used by socialenterprise.org.uk and is suitably open as to include a range of different activities and interventions by the private, public and third sectors.

There are some important terms in that definition that allow us to understand what a world full of social impact might look like.

It is a world of communities where the wellbeing of both individuals and families is taken care of.  Where communities themselves are strong and interwoven, creating a larger fabric that can withstand shocks from both the inside and the outside.

If it sounds like utopia or even just a little bucholic, it isn’t meant to. Idealised perhaps, but you know what – a world of communities (both online and offline) where I am respected and respect others sounds pretty good to me.

If I extend the imagery further I’d say that this socially impactful world has organisations that understand the balance between generating financial and social value regardless of their organisational model or sector (making widgets for cars doesn’t have to be a)boring or b)erode personal and social value – anything can make a difference if it understands the environment that it works in); governments that uphold the social contract, provide an enabling environment, curate and conserve both human and natural heritage in order to ensure the future; and individuals and families that understand and use the basic social concepts of respect, compassion, diversity and tolerance.

So what would your world of social impact look like?  What’s important to you in your journey of social impact?

Categories: Strategy


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