In building a successful company, one of the primary challenges one may face is the message and branding that their organization presents to consumers. Businesses are constantly in search of ways to present themselves as effective, meaningful, and oftentimes, ethical. For this reason, a certain expectation of doing good for the greater community is deemed necessary from almost every organization. Whether it be by promoting attainable sustainability goals, supporting community nonprofits, or creating more ethical supply chains and sourcing methods, corporate social responsibility has become an expectation of every organization.
However, supporting social change and enacting ethical business models is much easier said than done– so we’re here to help. By helping you understand the metrics that you can set to integrate social responsibility into your business, you can create a better brand message for both customers and stakeholders alike, all while working to empower your local community.
What does social impact mean in business?
The phrase social impact may apply to the many ways an organization prioritizes a certain amount of time and commitment towards giving back to a certain group or cause in the community. For businesses, social impact allows for a relationship to be created between the organization and nonprofit organizations. This can result in nonprofit partnerships involving corporate sponsorships for various social issues in the community. This demonstrates to consumers of both your business and members of the greater community that your business is committed to enacting actual positive change and dedicated to including corporate social responsibility, or CSR, in your annual budget.
There are numerous ways a business can present themselves as proponents of social impact– and the results of doing so are significant. Certain measures can be prioritized by businesses:
- Equal healthcare access
- Environmental sustainability
- Human rights
Through volunteering and sponsorship, your business is bound to be more marketable and more successful. According to The Center for Social Impact Strategy, 90% of millennials are more likely to buy a good or support a company that is more ethical and dedicated to social good. However, social impact extends far beyond just making your company seem ethical. To be considered as a supporter of positive social impact, a business must be committed to using a portion of their profits and general influence to give back to the community. By setting up a system of giving back to various areas of the community, a business can become more than just a business– it becomes what we like to call a social enterprise. By using the triple bottom-line idea that companies should be just as dedicated to social issues and the environment, particularly fighting climate change, as they are to maximizing profit. Therefore, companies must include volunteering, donating, and general social impact in their core business goals and budget.
This is particularly important during the current pandemic-era, especially given the lack of access to vaccines and testing that many less-developed countries have– these same countries being the ones that so many nonprofits are geared towards helping. By including social impact in your business, the corporate ecosystem can become a place of giving, while still retaining high levels of profit.
What are some examples of social impact?
There exist various forms of social impact:
- Product or Service: providing a good or service to an organization in need
- Volunteering: giving your time to a cause
- Match Program: filing a donation through a matching program (this can also include company wide matching campaigns!)
- Grant Making: signing and giving out grants to organizations/individuals in need
- Sustainability program: promoting sustainable development goals or volunteering/donating to environmental protection organizations
It is important to note that social impact comes in many forms, and varies depending on the size and industry of your company. Not every company needs to take on all forms of social impact. If you have a good employee base, and some form of volunteering or matching, you’re well on your way towards contributing towards social change.
We’ve also compiled some causes that a business may consider giving their time and efforts to:
- Climate Change
- Food Relief
- Youth and Family Mentoring
- Rehabilitation of Former Incarcerated Peoples
Social impact may also come in the form of providing support technologically and logistically for nonprofits. An example of this comes from one of the most well-known companies in the world: Microsoft. According to their website, Microsoft‘s Tech for Social Impact program provides cloud support to over 300,000 nonprofits. Similarly, Linkedin has an annual review of their commitment to social impact listed on their website. It outlines their guidelines for becoming carbon free, the millions of nonprofits that use their platform, and the number of causes that their own employees are dedicated to.
Why is social impact good for business?
Social impact at large is incredibly positive for business. Despite the lack of direct revenue and profit giving back may have for a business, in the long-term, a relationship with supporting the greater community is priceless (and profitable). Oftentimes, giving back can result in more money being put back into your business, whether this be from the people that you are giving to, or just from more awareness of your business’ presence in the community. This is what we call impact investing, where a business makes the effective choice to help their community in the hopes of a possible financial return or bolstering for doing so.
More specifically, startup social impact initiatives can also provide good business for your company. By associating your organization with a startup social impact project, such as many of the newer nonprofits that we work with at Millie, it can put your company on the radar of those searching for organizations that are doing good. This is especially true given startup culture’s reliance on social media and general social innovation. Social media partnerships between your business and a nonprofit are a great way to market your business to the community and potential customers. This also puts your own business at a competitive advantage with other companies.
Social impact software is also great for a business’ employees. It can help to promote the general well-being of employees by engaging them in something other than typical work tasks. With social impact involvement comes a certain value-creation– by giving good to other people, your employees will become more engaged, happy, and feel more a part of their workplace community.