What Is Social Impact? 5 Ways You Can Make A Difference Today
The social impact revolution is here and now more than ever individuals and businesses are starting to take a different look at how their impact (or influence) makes a difference on the social good of our environment and global citizens everywhere.
What once used to be a revolution that seemed exclusive to the feminists and “hippies” of the world, has now become much more mainstream, and it is about time. Climate change affects every single person on this planet, which means that the social impact revolution needs to be one that includes every person.
One of the major flaws of the environmental and social movements of the past have been that they feel exclusive to a certain subset of people that fit a particular mold or stereotype. For example, when you think of an environmentalist what do you think of?
The “hippie” stereotype from the 70s still exists today, and has made environmental progress and social reform something that still doesn’t feel relatable — this lack of relatability is what made the movements of the past fail to create wide sweeping change that was capable of gaining the attention and interest of the masses.
Social impact is something that every single person can relate to. No matter what your lifestyle, clothing choices, job, economic status, or hobbies may be. Social impact is about making choices that support the greater good, and to make the biggest social impact we need all 7.7+ billion people to feel empowered in their ability to make a difference.
But what is social impact anyway?
What Is Social Impact?
Social impact can be looked at through the lens of business, non-profit, and personal impact. Whether you or an individual person or a business/non-profit, social impact refers to the positive impact and effect your work or actions have on your local community, and the greater environment.
While there isn’t one specific definition that outlines what is social impact and what isn’t, generally speaking social impact is how people and corporations make choices that may not always be the easiest, but ensure that positive change comes from the way they choose to operate and act.
When it comes to business and non-profits, social impact often is woven into the very mission and values of an organization and drives everything from marketing to program development and operations.
Why Is Social Impact Important?
While social impact in the past has been mostly confined to the non-profit sector, more and more for-profit companies, otherwise known as social enterprises, are now choosing to develop and invest in social impact driven business models that support economic, social, and environmentally conscious practices.
Corporate Social Responsibility has also taken on a new role in recent years, as traditional for-profit corporations are becoming more aware of the increasing demand from consumers for more transparency and social responsibility. In fact, research has shown that 87% of consumers will purchase from a company based on social issues that they care about and a company advocated for. Additionally, 78% of consumers want companies to address social justice issues, and 76% will refuse to purchase products and services from companies that support issues that are in contrast to the consumers beliefs.
Additionally, as climate change continues to dramatically impact and change our ecosystems, innovation both in business and the non-profit sector will be required to ensure the global health of people everywhere. While social impact in the past may have been viewed as idealist and charitable, with the state of climate change today social impact business models are now a necessity for both economic and environmental sustainability — and companies are catching on.
Today there are more than 1700 B-Corporation Certified Companies in over 50 countries, and even some of the largest consulting firms are acknowledging that the traditional way of judging the success of business based purely in financial outcomes is no longer viable or appropriate.
5 Ways You Can Make A Social Impact Today
While it is positive to see the ways in which many companies are choosing to focus on their social impact, much of that change is driven through the actions of everyday individuals who demand something different.
While the weight and responsibility of climate change and global health equity should not sit on the shoulders of individuals, in order for the most powerful companies, governments, and policies to truly change and act, individuals need to collectively demand that change with our voices and daily actions.
Get Out In Your Community
Climate Change is a huge issue, and while we all can be working towards the greater goals of the climate progressive movement, working locally to improve water & air quality, access to safe green spaces, and organically grown fruits and vegetables can make a big difference in the health and well-being of your LOCAL environment
Vote With Your Dollar
You have heard this phrase before, and that is because how you choose to spend your money in many ways really does matter. What I don’t love about this phrase is that even being capable of voting with your dollar means you have a certain level of privilege that not everyone has access to. So if you have the means to do so, please use your money to support the change you want to see in the world, and know that you have a privilege that others do not, and it is important that you use that privilege wisely and with intention.
Okay so we just talked about voting with your purchases — but one of the best things you really can do to make a positive environmental impact is to purchase less. We live in a consumption driven society and with almost 8 billion people on this planet we cannot keep consuming that way we have been. So the next time you are feeling compelled to make a purchase, or feel guilty that you don’t have the financial means to buy that more expensive clothing option, remember that the best thing you can do to make an impact is to reuse what you already have at home.
Lead By Example
People do not like being forced or told to do anything they don’t want to do, which is why leading by example is the best way you can encourage the people around you to adopt a more ethical and environmentally positive lifestyle. Show your friends and family how easy it is to bring a reusable coffee mug, ask your friend to go for a walk or hike instead of clothing shopping, and make the farmers market a family affair. In no time you will be surprised by just how much your small actions impacted the choices of the people around you.
Support Your Local Farmers
Your local farmers are in many ways the backbone of your local environment and food system. They are literally the stewards of the land, and unfortunately most farmers are barely able to make ends meet. With topsoil erosion occurring at incredible rates due to poor soil management and climate change, our global food system is in trouble, and farmers who are choosing to farm organically and with traditional/regenerative practices are in many ways ensuring the future of our food system and ultimately our food security. So go out of your way to support them. Join a CSA, visit the farmers market, and thank them for everything they do to ensure that you have nutrient dense food to feed yourself and your family with.
Do you choose to purchase or support companies based on their social impact? With more companies choosing to innovate and transition to an impact forward business model, we are only just beginning to see the impact that social impact forward business can have on our most pressing social and environmental issues today.