Man in business suit pressing button that says 'social impact' with network of human figures coming out of it

The term ‘social impact investment’ is currently in fashion as a way to solve the world’s wicked problems. However, as so often happens between the NFP sector and those outside it, we seem to use the same words but define them differently so there is often a mismatch in understanding.

At the Centre for Social Impact (CSI), the definition of Social Impact Investment is in line with that of Government’s: an investment which seeks to generate social impact alongside financial return. However, for philanthropists, and business people ‘social impact investment’ has a wider ambit and is used as a way to describe ‘social and economic impact’. Confusingly, ‘social impact investment’ is the explicit description that is often used interchangeably in a shortened form ‘social impact’. As a result, many in the NFP sector misunderstand what funders mean by ‘social impact’. Rather than it being a term which defines their mission, funders use it as a catch-all to describe their economic and social impact.

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