Building Social Purpose for Social Impact

Building Social Purpose for Social Impact

by Jul 30, 2022Social Impact, Social Purpose

The Social Purpose revolution for companies, big and small, is well underway all over the world.

Canada is waking up to the revolution, and although we’re lagging in the Social Purpose and Social Impact sector as compared to Europe and the US, we are catching up.

The more awareness we can bring to companies to adopt their own Social Purpose, by receiving training on how to achieve this, the stronger our communities will be.

Ultimately social impact training companies like Business 4 Social Good are all working toward solving some of our world’s greatest challenges through business and empowering companies with the change structure to make it happen.

Social Purpose for a company is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’, it’s a ‘must-have’.

deb alcadinho, business 4 social good

Social Purpose provides your north star

In good times and bad, every company needs a north star. Social Purpose provides that higher purpose beacon beyond the products you manufacture or services you offer, by committing to making a difference toward a social, humanitarian or environmental issue, by embedding it into all levels of the company.

Social Purpose drives business value

If you’re a forward-thinking company you recognize that to not only survive but thrive in the future, you need to exist for reasons beyond making a profit. 

Don’t get me wrong, this is not at the expense of making money, but rather, as well as making a profit. I call this making a profit with purpose. In fact, having a social purpose is what your customers and employees want and in some cases demand.

Business models with embedded purpose are in demand

If the pandemic taught us anything, it put into question (or clarified) that what we do with our life matters – from what we do in our spare time, to who we work for, to what brands we support, to what we value, to how we want to contribute and make a difference to humanity – and why. And what both customers and employees care about, is changing!

If companies don’t adopt Social Purpose and work towards making social impact, they will most definitely get left behind.


Social Purpose is not …

  • A marketing tactic or campaign
  • A tagline or slogan
  • A Vision statement
  • A mission statement
  • A CSR strategy (corporate social responsibility)
  • Philanthropy

I think of Social Purpose as your company’s heartbeat. It must be integrated into your company DNA, not added on as an afterthought.

Differentiating corporate social responsibility (CSR) and Social Purpose

CSR business models

Typically, companies whose business model focuses on CSR are focused on creating short-term competitive advantage through goals like reducing emissions or increasing charitable donations. Often their drivers are the financial agenda rather than a societal agenda.

Social Purpose business models

Those who have embedded their social mission into every element of their business model have prioritized social or environmental benefits and have set more long-term goals such as addressing systemic issues like poverty, inequality, or climate change. They aim to be a positive force and create societal success in their communities.

Is your business model ready?

How do you know when you are ready to become a Social Purpose business?

  1. You’re ready to explore why your business exists beyond simply creating products, delivering services and maximizing profits.
  2. You’re committed to creating value to benefit society or humanity through the company’s core business, products, services and operations.
  3. You’re ready for Social Purpose to be the north star of your business model.
  4. You are committed to conducting business in a way that makes society better. You have an over-arching rally-cry that drives growth, innovation, culture, and shareholder value, not at the cost of making a profit, but rather making a profit with purpose.
  5. You’re excited to develop an aspirational belief for a better world.
  6. You’re committed to the concept of using business as a force for good and driving social change (even if you don’t know what that looks like right now).
  7. You’re ready to move beyond philanthropy and CSR in your business model.

Finding And Articulating Your Company’s Social Purpose

The process to find and articulate the Social Purpose for the company is one that starts with the founder (at least in the work we do with our clients at Business 4 Social Good) because in our work the founder sets the values, vision and direction for the company.

Like many businesswomen I know, I too was searching for an end-to-end framework to teach how I could be a social good company with full integration of a cause I was passionate about. When I couldn’t find it, I created it and founded The Social Good Academy and brought together a faculty of thought leaders in their industries to co-deliver the training programs.

In the Social Good Academy, we start with some reflective work with the founder, before we move to involve the team and the organization as a whole. We help the founder unearth the cause that lights them up, one that’s either in their community or globally.

And we look at how to engage the employees, with the cause and how the company can wrap their products, services, growth, innovation, and culture around the issue.

In our process, this foundational piece of Social Purpose lays the foundation for the entire social impact roadmap for the company to get their heart and heart wrapped around it.

The fun part of Social Purpose (ok it’s all fun!) is when you see the potential to innovate around it (by developing new products/services), hire the right new people (and they will be searching out your company), and in the process, some employees will decide you’re not a good fit and that’s ok (or you’ll right-fit your employees and release others).

But in order for Social Purpose to really work, it must run through your people and your culture. You’ll be surprised at how you can foster business partnerships with your vendors, contractors, and suppliers who will start resonating with your Social Purpose and engaging with you by asking, “how can we support you and your cause?” Who knows – maybe you will inspire another company to become a Social Purpose business.

Whether you choose to consider our programming or not, be aware that without properly embedding Social Purpose into your business model, it can be construed as purpose-washing. So do it right! Only then can you bring it to life, amplify your cause and your impact, and measure the results.

Social Purpose is the foundation of the social impact your company will put out there to the world.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with possibilities or not sure how to get started, there’s a free download available to help you find the cause your business can champion.  Find it here.

If you’re still not sure whether Social Purpose is right for your company, consider these three questions:

  1. What is the value to your company of having engaged employees and reducing the cost of employee acquisition and retention?
  2. What is the benefit to your company of having a boatload of customers or clients who align with your purpose and the impact you are creating in the world?
  3. How significant would it be to your company to make more profit (and feel good about the impact you’re creating)?

The solution is easier than you think! Our Social Good Academy training might be right for you. Learn more about the end-to-end framework here. Or reach out directly to see how we can help you with 1:1 consulting  

Be sure to share your progress with us. Now go out there and be the ‘social impactor’ I know you can be!


What is Social Purpose?

Social Purpose is a concept that seeks to align the activities and objectives of individuals, organizations, and businesses with social goals. It is about creating and promoting a culture of service, generosity, and transparency that will benefit society as a whole. Social Purpose helps organizations define their unique value to society and identify strategies to make a greater impact.

What are examples of Social Purpose?

Examples of Social Purpose range from giving back to communities with donations of funds, time and talent through volunteering, or engaging in sustainable practices that reduce environmental damage. Organizations can also use their resources to lobby for policy changes that benefit populations in need. Additionally, organizations can use their resources to create social businesses, social enterprises, or initiatives that are designed to solve specific problems.

Why is Social Purpose important?

Social Purpose is becoming increasingly important as businesses and the charitable sector strive to create a positive impact in the lives of others. It encourages individuals, organizations and businesses to align their activities with social goals, with the ultimate aim of creating a better world for everyone. Social Purpose can help companies define their unique value to society, identify strategies to make a greater impact and amplify their message to the world. By leveraging its resources and expertise, your company can create positive changes in society that benefit people for generations to come.

Deb Alcadinho, Chief Impact Officer & Founder, Business 4 Social Good

Author: Deb Alcadinho

Deb Alcadinho is the Founder & Chief Impact Officer at Business 4 Social Good, and the Founder of The Social Good Academy. She’s a social impact trainer and consultant to female business owners who want to move beyond CSR and philanthropy, and position social good at the heart of their business.

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