Why Social Impact is More Than Numbers - Social Good Connect

Why social impact is about more than numbers

30 September 2021

Everyone talks about ‘making a difference’, ‘changing the world’, ‘doing good’ or ‘positive social impact’, but few ever define what they mean. So, here’s a definition.

Social impact is created by:

‘The number of people whose lives are improved, and how much they improve, over the long-term.’

This means you can increase your social impact in three ways:

  • by helping more people,
  • by helping the same number of people to a greater extent,
  • or by doing something which has benefits that last for a longer time.

But the hardest thing to quantify is the knock-on positive effect that even one small act of kindness can inspire.

Even one person, volunteering one hour of their time, can have a bigger impact on the people and organisations they support than they might realise.   

So, the good news? You don’t need to worry if your entire team hasn’t signed up to volunteer, it only takes one person to have an impact on a number of lives. It takes just ONE person to make a difference.

You might, however, want to take a moment to consider how you can understand the real impact your employee volunteering activities have had. Here are our 3 top tips:

1. Celebrate the ‘serial volunteers’

It’s likely that within your organisation there are a few employees whose names crop up time and again when it comes to volunteering and fundraising activities.

Find these people,  celebrate them and encourage others to share their story –  they are your heroes!

Ask these people about the volunteering they do both through work and outside of it and what kinds of things they do to help to get a better understanding of their impact on the community.

Sharing the impact ‘serial volunteers’ make might influence others who have been considering getting involved to take the plunge and try volunteering for the first time.

2. Ask volunteers how it makes them feel

It’s not only charities and communities who benefit from volunteering, it’s great for the volunteers too!

Volunteering has been proven to have benefits for mental and emotional wellbeing and we love to talk about the ‘warm, fuzzy feeling’ that doing something for others inspires.

The positive social impact of volunteering goes beyond the actual activity of volunteering. If a volunteer has experienced an improvement in mood, and general wellbeing, or if they’ve learned a new skill or met new friends, this all counts as positive impact too.

3. Speak to the people they have helped

If you can, try to speak to the organisations and the volunteer managers they have worked with. Ask them what the biggest benefit has been, and what it has meant to work with this volunteer. The response may surprise you!

For example, when we asked one of our non-profit members, Suzie, what it has meant to her to work with an employee volunteer she replied: ‘With regards to the change she brought? Well, I was scared to employ anyone for 3 years and since she got on board and gave me the guidance and confidence we’ve made plans to employ 7 people!’

Need support?

If you want some help getting to grips with the real social impact that your employee volunteering activities have created, whether you’ve had 5 employees volunteer or 50, then why not get in touch with our Business Engagement Manager, Sarah to find out how we can support your work?

Or join our community to receive monthly updates on all things social impact and positive leadership.

Written by Betty Henderson

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