Investing for Social Impact
You and your extended family are attending the reading of the last will and testament
of a distant relative recently deceased.
Contained in the document is a paragraph specifically addressed to you. In this paragraph, your deceased relative asks that you find the most appropriate mechanism to invest €10,000 in the local community where your relative used to live. You are asked to find the investment opportunity that will generate the greatest social impact for the residents in the community. You have a timeframe of 1 month to prepare and present several different options to all members of your extended family, who will then vote on the options you present to select the best proposition.
You are required to identify and present different ways in which the €10, 000 bequeathed by your distant relative could be used to achieve the maximum social impact in the selected local community. Social impact can be achieved in a variety of ways and it is your responsibility to ensure that the fullest investigation of the different options is completed. Once you have identified all the possible investment opportunities, select what you consider to be the six best options and make individual presentations for each investment opportunity selected that outlines why you think it represents a sound and impactful way of investing the available funds to achieve the best social impact in the local community.
Step 1: What is social impact?
So, what do we mean when we say social impact? According to the Business Dictionary, social impact is defined as “the effect of an activity on the social fabric of the community and well-being of the individuals and families.”
To get a more in-depth understanding of social impact in a global sense, have a look at the definition and read about some of the social impact projects on the following website https://buildabroad.org/2017/03/03/social-impact/.

This short video clip below outlines and explains a social impact project that was developed in Mossman, Australia. 

Companies that realise a positive social impact through their products or services are keen to ensure that the broadest cross-section of consumers are aware of the social impact they achieve. Check out the six examples presented at the link below to ensure that you are fully versed in the complexity but also the importance of social impact to businesses.

Step 2: Conducting a community audit
Identify what types of opportunities to donate or invest the money are available in the local area that might achieve the social impact you desire. Make a comprehensive list of organisations in the local area and remember that this may include organisations from some or all of the following categories.

-  Community development organisations
-  Cultural organisations
-  Educational organisations
-  Environmental groups
-  Healthcare providers
-  Religious organisations
-  Special interest groups
-  Sports organisations

Having €10,000 to invest in a local area represents a significant opportunity for organisations, especially those in the 3rd sector such as community development organisations, cultural organisations, special interest groups and sports organisations many of whom operate on very small budgets and spend a significant amount of time fund raising.

Step 3: Structuring a fund to achieve long-term social impact
There are many ways of investing money in a local community programme or service to achieve a social impact. Now that you have identified the relevant organisations, it is time to consider how you will structure your fund to achieve the best long-term outcomes. Below is a selection of links to websites, videos and documents that outline different investment strategies for community gain or philanthropic funds. When you have considered the different investment mechanisms select your preferred approach and you are almost ready to set the wheels in motion.


Step 4: Animating local organisations
It is now time to engage with these organisations to elicit proposals as to how they would invest the funds available to achieve the maximum social impact. Send all interested organisations or groups a simple application form that gathers basic information about their organisation or group and a brief outline of what they want to do with the money and the social impact they hope to achieve. See the templates provided below and remember that a good application form does not have to be long or overly bureaucratic.

To ensure that all potential applicants can access the form make sure to create it in a commonly used programme like Microsoft Word or the one provided by Google Docs. https://www.smartsheet.com/free-grant-proposal-templates

Step 5: Measuring social impact
There are numerous mechanisms for measuring or estimating the social impact that the proposed investment might achieve. Many of these are based on the “Theory of Change”. Have a look at the video link that follows to ensure that you are confident and able to effectively measure the potential social impact of each project proposal you receive.

Measuring your social impact: Theory of Change [VIDEO]: 

One common methodology for measuring social impact is the logic model outlined below. This model looks at 3 different elements and 2 categories of outcomes. The short exercise that follows might help you to use a logic model to estimate the social impact that an investment might achieve.
Element 1 - Input: The local school asks you to donate €5,000 out of the €10,000 available.
Element 2 - Activity: The school board of management say in their application form they want the €5,000 to buy the latest computers for the computer science lab.
Element 3 - Output: They say that this will help them to compete with the other schools in the area which already have the latest technology equipment.

Short-Term Outcomes – The school can operate on a level playing-field with the other schools in the area.
Long-Term Outcomes – The school competes favourably with other schools in the area and attracts its share of students.

In this example, the main beneficiary of the investment is the school and its board of management. While the social impact might be implicit in the proposal to improve the school, the social impact proposed is weak and negligible. In looking at the proposal submitted, the input is acceptable and the activity is also acceptable. The problem really starts with the proposed output and the ensuing short-term and long-term outcomes that follow.

Let’s assess the effect on the social impact achieved if we change the proposed output.
Element 1 - Input: The local school asks you to donate €5,000 out of the €10,000 available.
Element 2 - Activity: The school board of management says in their application form they want the €5,000 to buy the latest computers for the
computer science lab.
Element 3 - Output: They say that this new technology will allow them to provide the same
educational opportunities for students in the school living with an intellectual disability as enjoyed by the rest of the student population.
Short-Term Outcomes – Better educational outputs for students with an intellectual disability
Long-Term Outcomes – More equitable society for all local residents.

By changing the proposed output, the potential social impact is significantly increased. This is the logic model of impact assessment at work.
For more examples of ways to measure and assess social impact see the websites and video below.

When you are comfortable with your assessment mechanism begin evaluating the proposals you have received.

Step 6: Presenting your recommendations
Now that you have evaluated all the proposals and requests for funding that you have received, prepare your presentation for your family members by presenting the 6 best applications that you have received. Use either PowerPoint or Google Slides to present your recommendations and explain briefly why you selected each of the 6 proposals.
Evaluation and Learning Outcomes
On the completion of this webquest, the learner will be able to:

Knowledge Skills Attitudes
· Factual knowledge on what social impact is and what it is not
· Basic knowledge of how to create a grant/proposal application form
· Basic knowledge of how to conduct social impact assessment
· Basic knowledge of how to prepare a presentation
· Use research skills to conduct
research in online environments to complete a set task
· Create a grant/proposal form that
allows gathering basic information about
the applicant organisation or group
and an outline of their idea
· Use critical thinking skills to s
upport the assessment of potential social impact of a particular proposal
· Use presentation skills to present the social impact project to peers
· Appreciate the positive social impact in a local community
· Select a grant proposal based on its potential social impact
Investing for social impact is critical to the achievement of a fair and equitable society. Raising 
awareness of the social impact that can be achieved by even the smallest investment is well worthwhile to help encourage individuals and businesses to invest in an impactful and sustainable manner in their local community. Being able to measure and assess the social impact that can be achieved is critical to ensure that best value-for-money is achieved from the corporate social responsibility programmes that now encapsulate most corporate donations into communities. Spending money is easy; spending it for maximum social impact is much more difficult.