Social Impact is no longer a buzzword among hippies and academics. It is a culture with deep roots in India and among Millennials. University of Michigan’s Center of Social Impact defines the term as: a significant, positive change that addresses a pressing social challenge.
To wrap our head around it, four measurable categories define the deliberation achieved through a plethora of activities by anyone, anywhere.
1.The Social Entrepreneur: individual
Atlanta, Georgia native Michael Grizzard generates ripples on social media, globally. impressions, globally. “Your Instagram reached 1,000 followers,” he called me up one day after I hired him. We met in Los Angeles, at the Secret Knock Conference for investors and entrepreneurs. His client, Secret Knock co-founder Greg Reid, posted an image of a ballerina’s bruised toes with the caption: “everyone wants to be successful. Until they see what it actually takes (1%).” Becoming a social media influencer is one fuel for success, which begins with personal branding to gain social proof. “The social ROI is huge,” says Grizzard, and the power of one story shared online builds legacies. “Frank Shankwitz, Founder of Make-a-Wish Foundation, can now leave behind a social legacy for his grandchildren. That’s social impact.” Beyond millennials and legacy builders, Grizzard serves celebrities like Emmy Award Winning Actor Austin Trace from Madmen, who wants to secure a positive social proof. The goal is social ROI, driving financial ROI and consumer behavior of the future. He jokes, “It only took me 2 years to figure out Instagram where one image can reach 9.4 million people.”
2. Social Enterprise: structure
Australian musician and actor Andrew Steel grew up admiring the super hero Batman so much so that he played his character in the YouTube Channel Justice Lease. Once again, he is playing a hero, as the lead role in Wishman, about the life and work of Frank Shankwitz (Make-a-Wish Foundation). “We have a social responsibility,” beyond granting children wishes, Shankwitz told me in his Prescott, Arizona home. Steel agrees, founding the social enterprise Flicks4Change, a non-profit that aims to achieve social, cultural and economic outcomes for international filmmakers who want to share their story — and earn revenue. Steel and I join forces at the Spirit Summit at the LA Sheraton on June 17th, to leverage partnerships and investment dollars for social enterprises that continue to drive trends in engagement.
3. Social Innovation: novelty/process
Katarina Thornhill is Vice President of Feed A Billion, a nonprofit with the mission to provide 1 billion meals by 2020. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, the organization is run by a small team of business owners who work as consultants and volunteers to spearhead the vision. “I love what I do,” said Thornhill, who coordinates operations. “The mindset of fund raising in the nonprofit sector is slowly changing” as a result of social media. “For $20 a company can run a Facebook Ad that can reach 1,000 people, but they will engage with around 5. When the same organization partners with Feed A Billion, they can get more engagement because for every like, 5 meals are donated and for every share, 10 are donated. This encourages interaction with the consumer.” Thornhill and her colleagues are business owners who understand businesses are often strapped for cash. “We are creating the Buy One Give One Program (buy one product, give one meal) to collaborate with businesses in another way. Live Bearded, an organization that partnered with Feed A Billion in November 2016, increased their ad spend by only 28% (primarily in Facebook Ads) but saw a 121% increase in sales for the month of November when they participated in that Buy One Give One model.” Ambuj Jain, the nonprofit’s founder, is no stranger to social media or business. The Indian businessman announced on Clarissa Burt’s show for Voice of America: “There is 17% more food in the world. Yet 22,000 people die of hunger every day. We were able to mobilize 1.5 million meals last year.” Jain is comfortable with the uncomfortable: dealing with local culture warlords, customers, improper infrastructure, etc. “Our partnership with local nonprofits and using social media has made this all possible,” he says. In addition to the team of entrepreneurs that support this mission, the organization utilizes Xocial, a platform that measures social impact through their social media model. Programs like these serve as further proof that social impact should be a growing interest to the business owner because it is of interest to their customer and often, an increase in social impact means an increase in sales.
4. Social Impact: movement
Jason White is spiritually hungry. Based in San Diego, he started F.I.T.N.E.S.S Coach, a coaching service for fitness enthusiasts and athletes. “I was headed for the NFL,” he told me. “But my focus is on 700 W, an integrative consultancy developing fitness programming.” In 2015, his “700 W Fit Party” set the world record for simultaneous group workout. Training 2,113 groups in 11 countries to support 470,000 meals served to malnourished children in 11 countries, he says, “social impact begins with transformation.” White and his team support an orphanage in India and visited widows to serve them food, providing clothing and supplies, and bibles. “We touched up to 10,000 lives.” His upcoming Fit Party will take place in San Diego on July 22nd. “It’s time to scale,” reach more people globally and measure contribution, he says, excited for the upcoming team trip to India and China. Check out his YouTube channel.
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Acknowledgements: Thanks to Michael Grizzard, Andrew Steel and Katarina Thornhill (Feed a Billion) for their interviews that lead to articles like this. Thanks to Allyn Reid (Sherpa Press + Secret Knock), Greg Reid, Ray Speth (Circuit Trees), Frank Shankwitz and Jason White for inspiring the thoughts that I can share with you in writing.