Social Impact is the new terminology

Social Impact is the new terminology by which an organisations effort to do social good is measured. At the forefront in the vernacular of government as they relate to non profits, the voluntary and charity sector’s; this new world, where digital immediacy demands tangible evidence and a high degree of transparency all organisations are forced to adapt.

Whilst demonstrating sound governance is now the cornerstone of any organisational charitable endeavour. Being able to illustrate and make a case for what social impact has been achieved or is to be is now the prime objective and the narrative that donors’ and potential stakeholders want to be presented with to inform their decision on whether or not you are worthy of their affection and ultimate investment.

As such, determining how to demonstrate social impact has become the important element of a non profit’s arsenal. Those who have been on any fundraising training, will know that it is important to engage potential funders early on, throughout the process of making a pitch or application, and then, if successful as you deliver the programme, a report on the programme delivered. Just as relevant research is required to indicate the necessary demand or need for your programme or social good solution. Being able to quantify the impact your programme will make is the sound basis of any appeal.

With the diminishing public pursue, resource, and infrastructure the transition to a commissioning culture argues for more efficiency more value and more accountability. Social impact is the term that is fit for purpose; however where the odds are still stacked in the favour of the established elite of the larger more established non profit organisations, how do new entrants and new innovation get to the front of the line, what are the strategies to employ, and how can the key network of funders be sufficiently influenced by those on the margins to be included in the drive to shape a more equitable future.

The push back against the natural order, will be for smaller groups and organisations to come to terms with the tenets of (CSR) Corporate social responsibility, impact investing, social enterprise, social investment and concepts of shared value that are now part of an evolved eco-system of the language driving social impact within the parameters from which civil society now has to operate.

A starting point is to deconstruct the best business models of this new lexicon to show how delivering social good is an intrinsic part of a new business philosophy that demands that every business trading must be concerned with who they serve and how they serve them; and the residual impact of what they do (think carbon emissions, carbon footprint, plastics in the ocean, supermarket packaging).

With one eye on developing corporate policy to persuade a more knowledgable consumer of a organisational culture with values they buy into, many corporates have tapped in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, trying to align their own policy frameworks with these global objectives, to demonstrate their own corporate governance is fit for purpose in relation to sustainable development.

Research into impact investing as a development strategy for the dynamic community facing enterprise is the now the cutting edge, and will bare fruit for organisations seeking low interest loans or grants to directly deliver grassroots programmes, where philanthropists/foundations missions and visions are compatible.

Society finds itself asking more question about it’s own integrity, as social media makes space for everyone to have an opinion, on the electoral process and whether or not it is fit for purpose (Think Grenfell, and Windrush scandal in the UK, the Flint water scandal). Even those who operate in Civil Society are starting to ask questions about its own capacity to do good where those who make decisions about what social good is needed and what projects are to be given financial support.

Given that as the high tech north (developed countries) enter the back end of a phase of liberal capitalism, where austerity, and the question of global inequalities, and racial disparity over several generations have still resulted in the wealth worlds top 1% juxtaposed with the impoverishment of 80% of the world’s population living on less than $10/day. The degree to which social impact can be achieved against these indices is a baseline position that a case can be made for. Reverse engineer a series of projects/programmes that seek to alter this baseline position favourably and you have a theory for change that can help sustain your organisations effort.