What is Social Impact in Business?Nov 16, 2022
Your business can have social impact without ignoring revenue or growth
When a business aims to do more than sell products or services by giving back to the community in some way, we call it social impact or corporate responsibility. This is an initiative that aims to improve the lives of others while continuing to generate revenue and representing to the public that the company is altruistic. Larger companies use their social impact initiatives to recruit and retain employees by providing them with a sense of a bigger purpose.
If you are a small business owner with limited cash flow or resources, this may seem like a far fetched or unrealistic idea for you. Today, we challenge you to consider the good that social impact plans can make on everything - your community, your band, your team, and your bottom line.
(read more and see the video)
The quick recap of that article:
There is a non-profit based out of Arizona called Operation Transition Outside the Wire. They started out as a small coffee shop in California that gave a free cup of coffee here and there to people in need. Over time they became a safe haven for those living on the street. And soon after that, it became clear that veterans were a group that was in particular need of support. Covid impacted the physical coffee shop, so the company pivoted to use coffee as a way to fund and operate the mission of their non-profit for veterans.
Does that little story trigger something in you?
Maybe you have a deeper desire to create a positive impact on others too.
Businesses are Made of People Who Want (and Need) a Purpose
From the standpoint of being a business leader, social good initiatives are good for all. The idea that we are stuck in front of a computer all day grinding like cogs is depressing. But if you are doing that work with the understanding that your efforts will truly make someone else's life better in some way... that is a very good motivator.
Hiring quality people is a challenge, especially right now. With the "great resignation" and "quiet quitting" going on, experienced and qualified people are demanding more from their jobs. It isn't about money or job title necessarily (though that's true too). People were locked in their homes for nearly 2 years, and they have realized there is more to life than working or money. People are seeking a reason to wake up every day, and making a difference is definitely one of the factors (among many others like flexibility, vacation time, and human-centric leadership).
There is a group of much younger job candidates who assume they can just become famous online using Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, etc. While they may have unrealistic expectations for how to earn money, these young and inexperienced people are also very interested in making a social impact. And once they get a reality check, they will be seeking to work for companies who care about the community too.
Where Do You Start?
As with any business shift or update, we begin with questions to ask yourself and your team. Who do I want to help and what I can I offer them? You may say to yourself, "I'm not in any special group such as veterans or cancer survivors. How can I identify a group in need that relates to me or the business?"
Whatever social impact we make should be tied to who we are as a business or the individuals who make up the business. So if you feel lost, Ask Your Team!
What underserved group is your business has become a solution for? Maybe you're not even aware of this group yet. Go through your CRM and pull reports on your customers - hopefully you collect some basic information about them beyond purchases. You may be surprised by what you learn. Perhaps your coaching services are helping those transitioning out of the military who need support with their resumes and translating their skill. Or maybe your baked goods delivery is serving elderly people who would otherwise not have access to such delicious foods because of limited mobility.
Once You Know Who, Then Decide What the Social Impact Is
You can find a non-profit that also serves the niche group your business serves or is inspired to support. Then it is time to build out a social impact initiative. It doesn't need to be something fancy or even very costly.
As a mom, I (Candice DeRiso) am concerned about the human trafficking issue in the United States. It's upsetting and scary. One day I decided that we would find a positive way to contribute to bringing an end to it or at least helping survivors using my business. I brought up the idea with the team and they were on board. The team wanted to support a local organization, so that helped us narrow down the options. We were able to satisfy both requirements when we discovered The Refuge for DMST in the Austin area. We started out by donating items during their drives to support a cottage such as towels and toiletries. Now we make a small monthly contribution to the organization and support them when appropriate on social media.
Another organization that we support annually is the Arbor Day Foundation by donating trees on behalf of our clients and team members. It's a small expense, but ultimately the impact matters. Plus, we all feel good knowing this organization chooses to spend "holiday ad money" with a non-profit instead of buying junk on Amazon for our clients.
Just Get Started
Your social impact can be $50 per month to a non-profit that needs your help. It can be the donation of your services. You can create a unique product that donates part of the proceeds to a worthy organization. There are so many wonderful ways that take just a little effort and a little money, but make a big impact.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Do your research first!
You want to clearly understand the organization’s mission and strategy, the effectiveness of their program(s), who is leading the organization, and (the big one) their financials. It's important to know where your resources will be put to use. You can use online tools such as Charity Navigator that use a scoring system to help you pick one out. And you can get a helpful checklist for how to do your research here.
We are so thankful for all of the good things in our lives - home, family, food, health, and more.
Why not give back to others who may be less fortunate?
Wishing everyone in our community and across the United States of America a warm and happy Thanksgiving holiday!