A Beginner’s Guide To Positive Social Impact

by Keri-Leigh Paschal – Executive Trustee, Nation Builder

 Regardless of why a business would choose to embark on a social impact journey, it is crucial to have a clear strategy in deciding how to pursue these intentions, and with whom to partner.

 You have to have a clear conviction of ‘Why?’, ‘What?’ and ‘With whom?” in order to achieve an effective and long-term positive social impact. You also have to have a clear goal for the investment of money, time and energy in order to make wise decisions for the long-term.

  The narrower your focus is, the easier it will be to define a mission and concrete social upliftment goals. Be specific about:

1) What you will focus on.

2) Where you will act.

3) Who you will help.


This has three tangible benefits:

1) It increases your chances of success by concentrating your efforts on something that is achievable.

2) It makes it easier to determine the activities needed to get there.

3) It makes it easier to measure progress.


Considering the almost endless range of opportunities where you can get involved, the following is useful guide on “How to begin”:

1) Understand the motivation behind your intentions.

2) Establish a vision – This will lay the foundation for all further activities.

3) Define your focus – Whom will you help: Children and youth, rural areas?


 What issues will you focus on: Health, education, social justice? Then – based on your motivation, vision and focus area – consider the following:

1) Where will you act?

2) Which possible partners will be a good fit?

3) Which beneficiaries will be a good fit?

4) What is the desired social impact you want to achieve?

Once the above questions have been answered, you then need to decide:

1) Your degree and scale of involvement.

2) The form or vehicle  – e.g. direct funding of a non-profit, or the establishment of your own trust.

3) The type of giving you are committing to – e.g. finances, human resources, time.

4) What areas you would like to fund – e.g. programmes, capital projects, operational costs, research.

5) The duration of your involvement.


  Answering these questions thoughtfully will not only help you and your business to articulate your vision and develop a suitable social impact framework, it will also help to guide the strategy and planning before any implementation or formal partnership takes place.

  Nation Builder is a platform that equips and inspires businesses to have a positive social impact in South Africa. As part of the Mergon Group, they collaborate across sectors to co-create resources that assist businesses in their social development work. They host regular events that bring together people who are committed to using their business as a force for good, and their continuous research is aimed at supporting business to partner well with non-profit organisations and the government, in order to build a prosperous South Africa. Contact them for more information, or join their community for free by completing an online social impact assessment.