What is social impact software? How can I incorporate social impact in my business? There are so many ways to create impact in your community. Your company has immense power to create change, whether that be through your people, product, or profit.
Social Impact is the act of driving a significant, positive change that addresses pressing social challenges in your local communities.
The Centre for Social Impact defines social impact as “The net effect of an activity on a community and the well-being of individuals and families.”
With such a broad definition it can be hard to fully wrap your head around the concept. We’ll try and break down social impact and it's methodologies, how to create your own social impact program at your organization, and the tools you can use to help facilitate your programs at scale.
To start, let’s draw a line in the sand on what social impact is, and is not.
When we talk about “significant, positive change” that social impact should bring, also known as "social good", it makes choosing programs and organizations to back easier.
Social Impact software is built for the private sector to help your company execute, measure, and engage employees and customers in social impact programs no matter the size or where anyone’s located.
Social Impact software helps you facilitate social impact programs like employee donation matching and organizing volunteering efforts.
When you’re looking for help in executing your social impact programs and trying to understand if a social impact software is right for you, consider these questions:
What initiatives do you focus your programs around? Volunteering Days? Community Engagement? Employee donation matching?
What reporting will you need to help make your social impact programs as scalable as possible? Employee match rates? Volunteering and engagement metrics?
And of course, what is your budget? We're biased but using a software will often save time and money organizing these efforts.
Social impact software can help you recognize employee milestones and anniversaries through automation and social change campaigns that easily engage with the organization to interact with your programs. Tools like Millie can help you have a holistic view on who is participating in your employee engagement programs, what your budget usage looks like, and helps you organize your next volunteering event with ease.
There is much debate around these two terms and what the difference is between CSR and social impact. Simply put, traditional corporate social responsibility programs have a more reactive nature. They are based around the corporation doing good in their communities through their existing practices.
Beyond moral and regulatory standards, corporate social responsibility is table stakes for companies. It's their legal responsibility as a company that exists in a community.
Corporate Social Responsibility includes business decisions like partnering with a manufacturer in your local community instead of outsourcing production, maintaining ethical labor practices, and maintaining a diverse workforce. Social impact goes beyond table stakes and is proactive social change.
Social impact includes the social good programs you create in your organizations that work to create a better community around you like volunteering, and food and clothing drives, embedded social business models, and tech for good programs.
You’re ready to build out and formalize your social impact program. Where do you begin?
If you haven’t put pen to paper on these seven things, this is where we would start:
1. Mission Statement: Clear and concise is best. This will help you organize your thoughts on exactly what you want your organization to get out of your program. This will be your driving force behind all potential programs and will help you prioritize opportunities that may arise in the future.
2. Focus Areas + Programming: Will you be more focused on specific cause areas or broad? Will these cause areas tie into your work as a company? What will your programming be in each of these areas? Volunteer initiatives, donations, drives, products?
You can help answer these questions by running employee surveys and getting a better understanding of what drives and motivates your colleagues at your company. You want to make sure that the programming you put into place will speak to the individual passions of your company.
3. Employee Involvement: What type of involvement will employees have? How will the program be communicated internally?
Talk to the managers across the organization and your HR team to get a better sense of how new initiatives are usually rolled out across the company so you can mimic that process. You’d hate to reinvent the wheel, work smarter not harder.
4. Community Involvement: What will your community engagement look like? Will other stakeholders like customers be involved? How will the program be communicated externally? What are you doing for social change and social good within your community? Are there ways to do capacity building for nonprofits you love? Can you leverage your team to help with fundraising campaigns for nonprofits?
Using the Millie nonprofit database, you can find different organizations in your area you may not have heard of that span across different interest areas so you can find something for everyone.
5. Team: Who’s going to be helping on these initiatives? What are their roles?
Look for employee resource groups who may already be working on initiatives similar to social impact. How can you build upon what they’re doing, or start your own.
6. Executive Champion: Who will champion social impact and make it a priority in executive meetings?
It’s imperative to have a member of the executive team on your side to help be your voice to those making business decisions. The more involved they can be in the process, the better.
7. Budget: It’s ok if this is zero dollars, but good to know what you’re starting with and what you’re working towards.
Need some more inspiration understanding how some of the world’s leading brands have formed their social impact programs? Check out our podcast Changemakers of Within where we sit down with the program managers across companies large and small to learn more about the intricacies of starting a sustainable and scalable social impact program.
Measurement of your social impact programs is important to show credibility to your internal organization, your Board Members, and the general public.
A large part of defining and creating a reputable social impact program comes from being able to tell a compelling story through public relations and marketing.
When you’re looking at the exact way to measure your programs, know that there is no one-size-fits-all reporting structure that works for everyone.
Instead, it’s best to ask yourself these questions:
If you have chosen to focus on a specific community challenge with your programs, how can you ensure that you are seeing the benefits to your community through the programs. Partnering with local organizations or keeping up with those who helped you execute your campaigns can keep you updated on your organizations work and impact.
Are you building reports for the Board and for your PR team to use for marketing? Or are you creating reports for your internal audience of potential volunteers and staff. The content and the reporting structure will vary depending on that audience. Generally speaking, external parties may be more interested in outcomes, where as an internal audience could be more concerned with total output.
Remember, your mission statement drives your social impact program. If you can’t tie a potential campaign to your mission statement, that can help you make the case that your team shouldn’t spend time working on it just yet.
To get inspiration for branding your social impact program, check out our CSR Brand Book here!
Learn more about Workplace Giving with Millie here.