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It’s time to experiment with social impact

Psychology, evidence, experiments

I don’t like the term “social impact”.

There, I said it.

It’s jargon, easy to throw about but difficult to understand.

Social Enterprise UK defines it as “the effect of an activity on the social fabric of the community and well-being of individuals and families”.

Endless articles, presentations and toolkits describe the importance of data, measurement, analysis, goals, values and frameworks.

Wikipedia has three lines.

So clear as mud then.

But all gloss over one important word: “effect”.

Social impact is about demonstrating that an activity is changing people’s lives for the better. In other words, it’s about demonstrating a cause-and-effect relationship between an activity and a set of outcomes that benefit people.

It’s science.

Except it’s not. It’s currently pseudoscience. The methods are unreliable and the claims are often vague or exaggerated. The Guardian article, “Best bits: how to measure your social impact”, provides nothing of the sort.

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