A SCRIPT for Deep Impact
A 6-step framework for curating initiatives that deeply impact society
Most organizations say they want to have a positive social impact. Altruistic intentions aside, they realize this is quite simply good for business. It builds brand awareness, it helps develop trust with customers and it strengthens employee engagement. All key issues that organizations today are grappling with.
It also seems simple enough to the naïve and uninitiated. Organize an event with some community engagement, send out a press release, then sit back and wait for the social impact reverberations to sky rocket the brand to top of mind recall and elicit warm fuzzy feelings from their customers.
It’s going to be a long frustrating wait.
Creating deep social impact requires so much more thought and resources. Having created initiatives around financial education that deliver just that, here is our 6-step SCRIPT framework for deep impact:
S – Strategically selected cause
This is the first crucial step and one that sets the stage for the success of the initiative. Organizations need to ensure that the cause they want to rally their troops and resources behind is strategically aligned with the organizations’ vision and business objectives. This makes it easier to integrate the initiative with their marketing strategies, ultimately helping their bottom line. This then also changes the lens through which they view the initiative – not as a cost to company but as a business opportunity that can be leveraged for long term organizational benefit.
It also helps if the cause is emotive and socially relevant. Financial education for youngsters for example is deeply emotive and serves to connect with a wide swathe of society. It’s also a topic you can go long and deep into, as it will always be socially relevant. Particularly for banks and financial institutions, this issue is one that squarely aligns with their vision and purpose.
C – Consistency is key
It would be hard to overestimate the importance of being consistent in the roll out and implementation of the cause related social initiative. Consistency shows commitment. Consistency enables the organization to reap the effects of compounding, slowly but surely building a name that stands out in relation to that particular initiative. Consistency enables the brand to own that space in the consumer’s mind. (Think Patagonia and climate change.)
An inconsistent or sporadic effort would be a colossal waste of time and resources. Moving in ten different directions doesn’t move the needle on any one. In today’s world of social media noise and fractured consumer focus, having a laser focused strategy, driving the same social impact message home is key to unlocking the magic of these initiatives.
R – Real value is delivered
This should be obvious but there a so many social initiatives that merely tick the proverbial box and get the PR story out without actually delivering any real value to society. This could be for a number of reasons – the initiative is too small and benefits only a miniscule number of people, too short for any real change to be engendered, or just too ineffective to bring about any lasting change beyond that which is momentary.
Delivering real value is the most important step of creating initiatives that have a deep social impact. It’s the only parameter that initiatives should be evaluated on. An initiative could score highly on every other aspect like strategy, consistency etc. but counts for nothing if it fails on delivering real value.
In terms of financial education for youngsters, there are tons of initiatives that fail this key metric. Again, the reasons abound – from not having a tested and widely acclaimed curriculum and not being delivered by trained professionals, to just conducting awareness sessions and implicit product pushing.
Real value is paramount if the initiative is to succeed in the long term. It’s the base on which feedback, reviews and testimonials are built on; all of which are critical to the social success of the initiative.
I – Impeccable standards
The initiative must be implemented with the highest standards of propriety. From the credentials of the partner companies associated with the roll out, to project reporting, and quality standards of the program being delivered, it’s imperative that these are beyond reproach and that agreed upon guidelines are strictly followed.
This helps to develop and boost trust among the various stakeholders which in turn translates into trust in the organization and brand.
And in today’s world, trust is a valuable currency.
Going back to the example of the financial education initiative for youngsters, it was important to demonstrate to stakeholders the global standards of the curriculum, the expertise of the educators involved, the experience we had in running large scale initiatives, and the innovativeness of the teaching methodologies used to ensure a world class experience.
P – Pragmatic goals
While nowadays it’s fashionable to overpromise, just because it makes for a better sound byte on social media, it’s important to decide on goals that are pragmatic to deliver.
This is important because as a long-term commitment, the regular updates on the initiative should show clear advancement on the goals. The public narrative should be honest and transparent and that’s easier when the goals are achievable.
It also ensures that the morale of the team stays high because they can see the goals as something they can reasonably aspire to. That however doesn’t detract from choosing an audacious goal, it just means putting in the work, resources and commitment to ensure that the desired goal is reached.
T – Transcend the ordinary
In order for the initiative to cut through the noise in the market and gain traction, its immensely helpful if the initiative scores high on novelty and innovativeness. This makes it stand out from the rest, and get attention and engagement from stakeholders.
It needs to be something they are proud to be part of, and happy to facilitate. Something that captures their imagination and that immediately connects with them on a deeper level. Something extraordinary.
Extraordinary not just in terms of scale and quality but more importantly in terms of deep social impact.
The financial education initiative we ran in early 2022 that encompassed over 2000 students, across 23 educational institutions is a great example as it delivered on all three counts.
Schools were proud to be part of this, parents were thrilled that their kids were finally getting the financial education they sorely lacked; the kids were excited to be learning about a topic they realized was incredibly important. Critically, the sponsoring organization was especially pleased with the deep social impact this initiative generated.
Curating an initiative that has far reaching impact is not just a social imperative but a business imperative as well. It bodes well for many aspects of an organizations like brand awareness, trust and employee engagement. However, it’s not so easily done.
The 6 step SCRIPT framework we’ve detailed above sheds light on the key principles required for an initiative to achieve breakthrough on the social impact front. Each one is vital in its own right but working together they ensure that the initiative comes together coherently to deliver what everyone wants – deep impact.