Jargon Buster - What does 'social impact' actually mean?


Jargon Buster - What does 'social impact' actually mean?

Next in our jargon busting series we look at what Social Impact really means ...

What is social impact?

There are almost as many ways to define and measure social impact as there are different types of social impact.

CAN describes social impact as the lasting change that is created by an organisation or an activity. This typically includes:

  • social and environmental changes for a range of all relevant stakeholder (individuals and their families, organisations, government, society, etc.)
  • positive and negative changes
  • intended and unintended changes

One relatively comprehensive introduction to different types of social impact in the UK is provided in an ‘outcomes matrix’ by Big Society Capital

Social impact - and measuring ‘social return’ - can raise complicated, technical issues, such as ‘attribution’, ‘deadweight’ and ‘displacement’.  

For a simple description of these other issues see the UK Government’s Centre for Social Impact Bonds.

Category: Invest