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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