Social impact is receiving more attention from mission-based organizations. What does social impact mean, and why is it attracting the spotlight?
Social impact can be defined as the impact of an organization or program on the health and well-being of individuals. Conceptually, social impact falls under our broader umbrella of positive impact, which also includes elements of economic impact, environmental impact, and policy impact. For practical purposes, many people use social impact and positive impact interchangeably.
Social impact is receiving more attention for at least three reasons. One reason is the emergence of mission-driven businesses that seek to address social problems either directly as part of their mission, or indirectly through a corporate social responsibility strategy. A second reason is the evolution of public/private/nonprofit partnerships that require a shared concept for measuring impact. Social impact fits the bill in many of these cases. A third reason, related to one and two, is that more people are writing about social impact, and more organizations engaging in research and education in social impact. Among these are business organizations, foundations, think tanks, universities, and public interest news outlets.
We recommend learning more about social impact as it receives more attention as a focus for mission-driven organizations. Here are some perspectives from the field to get you started,
Perspectives from the Field
- The Social Impact 100 from the Social Impact Exchange
- Bridging the Health-Community Development Divide (Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, 2017)
- Grantmakers in Health Guide to Social Impact Investing (2017)
- The Rise of the Social Enterprise: A New Paradigm for Business (Forbes, 2018)
- Why More CEOs want to Make a Social Impact (Fortune, 2017)
- Healthy Counties Initiative (National Association of Counties, 2018)
- Advancing a Culture of Health in Cities: Understanding the Factors the Influence Health Where We Live, Learn, Work & Play (National League of Cities, 2018)
- Social Determinants of Health (American Hospital Association, 2018)
- Evaluating Social Determinants of Health in Community Development Projects (whatcountsforamerica.org, 2018)
- Social Determinants of Health 101 for Health Care: Five plus Five (National Academy of Medicine, 2017)
- How Payer Philanthropy Can Address Social Determinants of Health (Health Payer Intelligence, 2018)
- Health Equity and Social Determinants of Health (The Guide to Community Preventive Services, 2018)
- American Academy of Family Physicians Policy on Social Determinants of Health (AAFP, 2013)
- Why Education Matters to Health: Exploring the Causes (VCU Center on Society and Health, 2015)
- American Planning Association Center on Planning and Community Health (APA, 2018)
- Transportation and Health (American Public Health Association 2018)