"Now more than ever..." has been the lead sentence in countless conversations over the past month. And what follows is almost always a sincere discussion reflective of the best of human nature's desire to provide checks and balances that ensure peace, prosperity, and stability during times of change and uncertainty.
For those working in social impact - nonprofits and for profits alike - these conversations almost always yield insight into a social impact strategy, intentionally or otherwise.
These strategies typically apply to the two primary operations of an organization: first, its products and/or services; and second, how the organization itself (through its time, talent, and treasure) serves the greater good.
Some businesses sell products and use a portion of profits for positive social good. That's traditionally what most call Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Think Ronald McDonald House. But the increasingly popular model is where a company uses the business model itself to serve the social good while making profits. This is social impact in the corporate context. Think Tom's Shoes, Apple's supply chain responsibility efforts, or McDonald's groundbreaking work to prioritize healthier choices in products marketed to kids (full disclosure - I worked on this project so am definitely biased in my promotion of it!).
In the broad world of social impact, CSR is increasingly taking a back seat to social impact initiatives, which is part of a redefinition of the way corporate citizens serve as social actors in the world of which they are a part and the markets upon which they rely. CSR is still important and should be applauded when/where it exists. But it is increasingly giving way to the more dynamic, "double bottom line" of doing good while doing well. Profits and purpose...not purpose after profits.
There is an analog to all of this for the legal profession, which is a sleeping giant in the world of social impact. As I noted in my previous post (here), pro bono is the lens through which most view how the law achieves social good, but is no longer a big enough construct, nor an adequate measurement tool, to capture all the good the legal profession is doing (and is responsible for helping their clients across various sectors achieve). More on that in future posts.
Whatever your business, whatever your product or service, and whatever your philosophy on "giving back" (CSR) or doing good while doing well (social impact), now is the time to double down, get crystal clear, and maximize impact. Your customers and clients love it, and so do the members of your team. They're more energized, engaged, and productive when they feel their work really matters. So the more meaning and impact you can bake into that work, the greater the rewards will be for everyone involved.
And not to be overlooked, your own personal social impact strategy matters too. Making a difference extends beyond the workplace into your community, neighborhood, family, and home. Finding purpose in all your passions produces an even greater return.
Bottom line: If you are in the business of making the world a better place, a purposeful, clear, and defined social impact strategy matters...now more than ever.
Beyond Advisers is an impact philanthropy & social innovation consultancy. We help the world's leading change agents design and build the most impactful social enterprises, programs, and partnerships in the world. Click here to learn more.