How to create social goals to make an impact in the world

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At the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, we constantly consider how to best accelerate opportunity for children living in urban poverty.

And what we come back to — each time — are the seven goals that anchor our social impact work. From creating opportunities for low-income students to attend high quality schools, to helping young parents gain access to responsible financial services, to supporting low-income families as they navigate out of poverty, the goals that drive our investments are anchored not in models or causes, but in people.

And in return, our goals have helped to keep people front and center in our work for nearly 20 years. Our goals hold us accountable to ensure that we are working directly with disadvantaged and underserved children and families in the United States, India, and South Africa, learning from their experiences and partnering with them to successfully remove obstacles to opportunity.

In the communities in which we work, real and lasting solutions cannot be executed from conference rooms. When life is hard, good ideas can only get you so far. True solutions are about turning ideas into reality; they are about working at the community level with determination, with persistence, and with a relentless commitment to making it work, no matter what.Across the world, we are privileged to work with a set of partners who share our passion for people and for outcomes

As an example, one of our seven goals is to provide new career and job opportunities for over 250,000 low-income young adults globally. Consider our investment in iMerit, an innovative company in India founded by Radha Basu to train marginalized young people and give them the opportunity to enter careers in the global technology market. Early in the company’s history, Radha was faced with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle to achieving the impact she sought: the young women she wanted to hire were not allowed to leave their residential community for training or work because of religious and cultural traditions. Even after significant yet unsuccessful efforts to forge a solution with community leaders, Radha refused to give up. If the girls could not leave to access opportunity, then opportunity must be brought to them. Despite the substantial extra work and investment that it created for the company, she ultimately opened an iMerit center directly in the heart of that community.

Today, those young women are in leadership roles at the center, and this very successful iMerit center is providing technology services to some of the world’s best-known technology companies — and opening up previously unimaginable job opportunities to young women and young men across that community. Across iMerit’s locations in India and the US, Radha is helping hundreds of young people change the trajectory of their lives and strengthen their families. Her organization embodies not just what we strive to achieve but how we do it — working shoulder to shoulder alongside the people we want to support.

Radha and her iMerit team are just one example of the literally thousands of people we’ve worked with across the world who refuse to accept ‘it won’t work’ as an answer. As you read over our social impact goals, I hope you will see in them the faces of so many people who are both embracing new opportunity and helping to create it.

At the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, we believe more than ever that our seven social impact goals are an important filter to help us get at the very real needs in the communities in which we work, in a way that enables solutions that truly make a difference — for real people, on the ground, every day.

So what’s our secret sauce? It’s the people — those at the heart of our work and those we partner with across the world. Because, in the end, money doesn’t solve problems, people do.

Optimists view the world with a different lens than pessimists.

Optimists experience better health, manage challenges more effectively and are generally more confident and happier within themselves. Optimists are found to have an overall higher quality of life than pessimists.

The 2016 World Happiness Report ranks 156 countries around the world measuring happiness levels. Denmark was ranked number one in the world resultant of various factors such as: social support, generosity, life expectancy and the freedom to make choices.

Research has found a strong correlation between kindness and happiness. Those who engage in random acts of kindness are happier. Research indicated increased levels of activity in the part of the brain responsible for compassion.

Every day we have the opportunity to help others or perform a random act of kindness that positively impact’s others lives. Here are some great ways to get started:

1. Give More

Start by giving more than what is expected.

Whether it is helping a colleague work on a project, doing household chores you have been putting off for months or years, or spending quality time with your children.

Learn to become aware of what is happening around you and what others are experiencing. This helps you to live more fully in the present.

A genuine smile is contagious. A smile is a universal language that can literally change someone’s day.

It boosts your mood, takes a moment of your time, costs nothing and has an immediate positive impact for both parties.

3. Help Others

Helping others gives us a sense of connectedness, happiness, fulfillment and meaning.

Look for ways you can make a difference; from offering to pick up your friend’s child from school, helping a colleague meet a tight deadline, run some errands for your partner, help a mother who has her child in a pram disembark from the subway, or buy someone at work a cup of coffee.

4. Send A Thank You Note

This is one of my favorite ways to demonstrate sincere gratitude for those people whom touch your heart. I send thank you notes all the time to people who inspire me, have taught me valuable lessons, helped me grow and become a better person, gone out of their way to give me advice or simply been there for me as a true friend.

Another advocate for thank you notes is Ivanka Trump. In her book, The Trump Card: Playing To Win in Work and Life she suggests writing thank you notes to those people that you admire.

5. Create More Love

Every day we have the power to choose to act with love or fear or another way to look at it, is using Dr. Joe Dispenza’s terminology of living in either a state of ‘survival’ or ‘expansion’.

Survival state is operating from a state of stress whereas expansion involves feelings of inspiration and operating from your heart which creates joy and happiness.

Daily mediation, mindfulness and practicing gratitude increases our ability to create more love in this world. You have the power to send more love to the world, to strangers on the street and your loved ones. There is no denying the power of creating more love in our lives and for those around us.

6. Quality Time With Family

There is no better time than right now to start increasing the quality of your relationships with those you love.

In a world with no off switch, it is easy to get caught up in the vortex of an never ending to-do-list or be swallowed up by all the distractions on your phone from business and personal emails, an over supply of apps, client phone calls and your list of errands and daily priorities.

It is exhausting, drains your energy and robs you of the opportunity to use that time to allow you to refresh your mind and body and increase your levels of happiness by spending quality time with your family.

Start by sitting at the table together to have a real conversation minus the technology gadgets – talk, laugh and learn what happened throughout the day, organize to go on a picnic on the weekend at your favorite park or go on an adventure by driving to a new city or fun park.

7. Nurture Your Business Relationships

Success in business comes down to one’s ability to build and maintain extraordinary relationships.

Those who excel at nurturing their business relationships are in constant demand, others are attracted to them like a moth to a flame resultant of their exceptional ability to develop a meaning and real connection with others.

Success in business and life in general is attributed to the connections we create with others and the degree to which we are able to give and receive.

8. Surprise Someone You Love

Who doesn’t love a surprise?

Surprising someone you love is one of the most beautiful ways to demonstrate how much you love and care about that person.

When we get caught up in our daily lives of routine and mundane tasks, we can forget to take the time to demonstrate how much we truly care and show sincere appreciation for the joy and happiness that person bring into our lives.

Sometimes, it is not enough to simply say the words ‘I love you’, the actions to demonstrate that statement is true sends the message with much more vigor.

If we engage in acts of kindness and take positive action daily it forms a habit.

Engaging in random acts of kindness and taking action rewires your brain. It positively changes other’s life and can also change your life forever. The final thought I would like you to ponder,‘Be the change you want to see in the world’ – Gandhi.

How to create social goals to make an impact in the world

The world’s growing ever more competitive. Even if you already have a job, making sure you have access to the best opportunities means going beyond the usual. It’s not enough to stay on top of your to-do list or meet the expectations of your job description. If you want to make an impression, you have to differentiate yourself from others.

There are three things people notice that can help or hinder you in setting yourself apart: your attitude, how you treat others, and how you act when you think no one is watching.

Specifically, here are 10 ways to make a successful impression in the workplace:

1. Become a trailblazer.

One of the best ways to make an impact is by breaking ground with new ideas, spearheading new concepts, and originating new proposals. Be a trailblazer–don’t be afraid to make your own tracks. Work to always be the person who can offer a creative solution or a solid Plan B. Be resourceful enough to do a lot with a little.

2. Keep people informed.

No one likes chasing people or information. Do everyone a favor and update them often. People often think they should wait to communicate when a task is finished or they have specific information. When you let people know what’s happening–even if it means saying you don’t know–you’re saving them from speculation, distraction, and rumors. A simple status update can buy a lot of peace of mind.

3. Be the go-to person.

Become the person other people count on. Few things make a bigger impression. Don’t work to become a person of success but a person of value.

4. Become a forecaster.

Keep your thinking a step ahead of the rest. If everyone is worrying about today’s problems, think about tomorrow’s solutions. Don’t wait for things reactively; instead, be responsive to issues and trends before there’s a problem. It comes down to paying attention to the people and problems you’re dealing with and noticing patterns or potential pitfalls. We’ve all had moments when we know we could have done more. Long before you get to that moment, come up with a plan and set it in motion.

5. Have confidence to speak up.

Have you ever sat in a meeting where there were only two people doing all the talking? If you want to make an impact, be willing to speak up and speak out. Share what you know and let others know how you can be supportive and helpful. Leaders are never silent in meetings.

6. Do things without being asked.

Never ask, “Is there anything I can do?” Just look around and find something useful to do. Making an impact means seeing what needs to get done and taking the initiative to make sure it happens. Try to do something every day that no one asked you to do.

7. Be a great listener.

Most people think that making an impact is all about what you say and do. Often overlooked is another important way you can leave your mark–by becoming a great listener. Pay attention to what people say. Listen to understand and focus on the speaker instead of thinking ahead to your reply.

8. Go the extra mile.

Above all, you have to do your job and do it with excellence. But that’s where most people stop–and that means you can make an impact by going further and being more helpful, more supportive, more valuable. The extra mile is never crowded.

9. Have a positive mindset.

Whether you’re just starting out in your first job or are leading a team of your own, remember that people gravitate toward those who have a positive attitude. It’s the person who takes on every task–even the most tedious–with enthusiasm and joy who truly stands out. If you view everything through a negative lens then you’re likely to have a negative mindset, but if you cultivate a positive attitude it will take you far.

10. Take the lead.

Everyone has the choice to be a leader, to make an impact and leave their mark. Too many people back off from taking the lead in the mistaken belief that leadership and greatness are reserved for a select few. But in the many years I’ve served as an executive leadership coach, spending time with top leaders in virtually every field, I have witnessed that the only way people give away their power is by thinking they don’t have any. If you take it upon yourself to lead with the idea of serving others, you will not only stand out but will also leave a strong and lasting impression.

If you’re the kind of person whose foundation is positivity, service, and guiding and supporting others while trying to solve problems and come up new solutions, you will soon find yourself standing out–and setting yourself up to become the kind of leader others respect and want to follow.

Learn what small things you can do to create positive social change in the lives of many.

Social change comes in many varieties. It’s not just news-making movements or curing disease. Much simpler acts, which might only affect one person, can have as much of an impact as larger actions. Let’s explore a few small things you can do to make a big social change impact.

Practice Random Acts of Kindness

Small, random acts of kindness—like smiling at a stranger or holding the door open for someone—can be a great way to make a social change impact. Sometimes these random acts of kindness even start a ripple effect that can spread far beyond the first actor. 1 The great thing is that it doesn’t take much effort or planning to create a positive impact. Studies show that simple acts of kindness can actually make the person doing them happier and can even have positive health benefits. 2 Even if the act itself is small, the impact for both the beneficiary and the actor can be large.

How to create social goals to make an impact in the world

Create a Mission-First Business

A mission-first business is a way business owners can make a social change impact. A mission-first business can still operate as a for-profit enterprise, but is oriented around a socially impactful mission. The business emphasizes making a positive impact on society and not just on profits. The more a mission-first business grows, the larger social impact it can make. 3 Combining business success with social change can prove good for business. Customers will often seek out mission-first businesses based on the social impact created. Business owners looking to make a big social change impact should consider running a mission-first business.

Volunteer in Your Community

You don’t have to start a new organization to make a positive impact on your community. Instead, you can volunteer with an organization working for social change. By volunteering your time, you can help these organizations and allow them to continue providing the services the community relies on. 4 A specific skillset is often not needed. An organization might need help serving meals, tutoring children, or handing out materials. While these are all simple acts, they can be very helpful to the organization and can make a significant impact on the community.

Vote With Your Wallet

Any business knows buyers have power. This means that consumers can create a social change impact by only buying goods from socially conscious companies. 5 Companies will notice if many consumers stop buying their products. When enough people support socially conscious companies, the unethical companies will be forced to acquiesce or risk going out of business. This demonstrates that when enough people carry out a simple act, like supporting socially conscious companies, it can lead to a big social change impact.

There are many large and small ways to make a positive social change. Attending a college or university that supports social change can be a great way to enhance your positive impact after earning a degree. Colleges and universities can support social change by helping students apply new skills, expand their networks, gain deeper knowledge, and consider a variety of perspectives to better address practical problems. Another way to support social change is for colleges and universities to establish service days in which students and staff volunteer time and resources to their communities.

Positive social change can be accomplished in large and small ways. Social change can be as simple as a smile, holding a door, planting a garden, or supporting a socially conscious company. Regardless of the size of the gesture, big social change impacts are possible.

Walden University is an accredited institution actively promoting positive social change. With Walden, you can create and contribute to real change and have an impact on a global scale.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

Whether looking for information on programs, admissions, or financial aid, we’re here to help.

Fill out the form and we will contact you to provide information about furthering your education.

How to create social goals to make an impact in the world

A legacy. It’s something that very few men and women in the 20’s, 30’s, and even 40’s really think about. We think about building a successful life. We think about creating a good life for us and our loved one’s. But a legacy?

Building a legacy is the furthest thing on our mind. But I’d argue that it should be at the forefront of everything we do. Don’t just focus on building a good life today, create a life that will leave it’s fingerprint on this planet for years to come.

Here are 5 ways to leave your mark, starting today.

1. Do nothing half-assed.

In a recent issue of Forbes Magazine, there is an interview with Sean Parker. Sean’s the guy who was portrayed by Justin Timberlake in the movie the Social Network. A guy who has achieved an insane amount of success at an incredibly young age, but who’s hits keep on coming. He’s not a ‘one-and-done’, get his paycheck and ride off into the sunset kind of guy.

One thing that is constantly said about Parker – and that he says about himself – is that he does one thing perfectly, and then moves on to the next. He become’s so consumed that he’s regularly late for meetings and engagements. There’s one thing in the world that matters most, and that thing is what he’s working on right now.

As a result he’s successful. Insanely successful.

What can we learn from this?

◦ Don’t spread yourself thin with too many projects at once.

◦ Learn to say no. Don’t try and please everyone by always saying yes.

◦ Set massive goals and do what’s necessary to make them realized.

2. Help.

A legacy isn’t something that is singular. A legacy is created through having a massive impact on a select few, or a large population. How do you have a massive impact on people? You help them.

Giving of our time, energy, and expertise – of which we all have – has a lasting impact on those we help. I still vividly remember the words of an old, successful man who agreed to have breakfast with me. We chatted. He talked about lessons that life has taught him, asked me about what I was learning, told me about mistakes he made, then told me to never, ever regret anything. Learn from, but never regret from.

He probably had better things to do with his time, but he helped me instead. His legacy is going to be that much greater because he has that attitude. It’s not the millions he’s made over the years, but the people he has helped that will leave the greatest fingerprint.

3. Set audacious goals.

“The great pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.” Walter Bagehot

Don’t set goals that are easy, that you know you can accomplish. A great way to achieve mediocrity is to plan for mediocrity. Something that far too many of us do on a daily basis.

Think about the ultimate of what you’d like to accomplish. Set that as your goal, then break it down into smaller processes. The processes aren’t smaller goals, they are action steps; thing you will do on a daily and weekly basis that will help you achieve this massive, audacious goal.

Be bold in the goals you set and the expectations you have for yourself.

4. Be prepared to lose it all, to gain it all.

I just finished The Education of Millionaire’s. A point the author, Michael Ellsberg, makes early on in the book is, the greater the impact you want to leave on the world, or any aspect of life, the greater the risk you’re going to have to take.

The greater the risk, the more likely your are to fall flat on your ass.

Greatness requires risk . Mediocrity requires the desire for safety. The more you let fears dictate your decision making and what you aspire to achieve, the less you are going to accomplish.

To leave an indelible mark on the world, risk is a must. Not everyone has the balls to reach for the stars, or the desire to. To many, the stars exist in the small things, the simple pleasure’s in life. To some degree I envy them. I envy their ability to feel fulfilled with what they have. To not have that need to push their limits.

I’m going to live my life always wanted to push myself further. It’s just my make-up. It can result in greatness, but it can also result in failure. I’m prepared to risk the failure for the chance at greatness.

Ask the question: are you?

5. The most underrated commodity: Energy.

Time is money. Actually, time is much more important than money. What you do with your time will help you become a happier, healthier, wealthier, more successful, and more productive person. Money is nothing without the things we can trade for it. But time, time is everything, and how we use it will determine our legacy.

How do you make the most out of your time? With focus and energy.

The more energy we have, the more we’re able to focus, the harder we can work, the more we can laugh, the clearer we can think, the more we get done in less time, and the more free time we’ll have to do those things that we enjoy most.

Can we alter our energy levels?

Yes, and it has nothing to do with caffeine or any kind of drug, and everything to do with the kind of shape we’re in. When I’m in my best shape I have more energy, more focused, and I’m happier.

When we think about getting in great shape we think about the extra years we’re adding to our lives, and that’s great, but the quality to those years, days, and hours that we’re adding is the greatest benefit.

How to get in better shape and have more energy:

◦ Have a balanced routine that’s focused on improving strength, athleticism, and lung capacity: aesthetics will come.

◦ Dedicate 30-45 minutes 3-5 times a week to being active and to training. It doesn’t take a lot. You’ll get that time back in focused work, laughter, and in the heightened quality of your life.

How to create social goals to make an impact in the world

A legacy. It’s something that very few men and women in the 20’s, 30’s, and even 40’s really think about. We think about building a successful life. We think about creating a good life for us and our loved one’s. But a legacy?

Building a legacy is the furthest thing on our mind. But I’d argue that it should be at the forefront of everything we do. Don’t just focus on building a good life today, create a life that will leave it’s fingerprint on this planet for years to come.

Here are 5 ways to leave your mark, starting today.

1. Do nothing half-assed.

In a recent issue of Forbes Magazine, there is an interview with Sean Parker. Sean’s the guy who was portrayed by Justin Timberlake in the movie the Social Network. A guy who has achieved an insane amount of success at an incredibly young age, but who’s hits keep on coming. He’s not a ‘one-and-done’, get his paycheck and ride off into the sunset kind of guy.

One thing that is constantly said about Parker – and that he says about himself – is that he does one thing perfectly, and then moves on to the next. He become’s so consumed that he’s regularly late for meetings and engagements. There’s one thing in the world that matters most, and that thing is what he’s working on right now.

As a result he’s successful. Insanely successful.

What can we learn from this?

◦ Don’t spread yourself thin with too many projects at once.

◦ Learn to say no. Don’t try and please everyone by always saying yes.

◦ Set massive goals and do what’s necessary to make them realized.

2. Help.

A legacy isn’t something that is singular. A legacy is created through having a massive impact on a select few, or a large population. How do you have a massive impact on people? You help them.

Giving of our time, energy, and expertise – of which we all have – has a lasting impact on those we help. I still vividly remember the words of an old, successful man who agreed to have breakfast with me. We chatted. He talked about lessons that life has taught him, asked me about what I was learning, told me about mistakes he made, then told me to never, ever regret anything. Learn from, but never regret from.

He probably had better things to do with his time, but he helped me instead. His legacy is going to be that much greater because he has that attitude. It’s not the millions he’s made over the years, but the people he has helped that will leave the greatest fingerprint.

3. Set audacious goals.

“The great pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.” Walter Bagehot

Don’t set goals that are easy, that you know you can accomplish. A great way to achieve mediocrity is to plan for mediocrity. Something that far too many of us do on a daily basis.

Think about the ultimate of what you’d like to accomplish. Set that as your goal, then break it down into smaller processes. The processes aren’t smaller goals, they are action steps; thing you will do on a daily and weekly basis that will help you achieve this massive, audacious goal.

Be bold in the goals you set and the expectations you have for yourself.

4. Be prepared to lose it all, to gain it all.

I just finished The Education of Millionaire’s. A point the author, Michael Ellsberg, makes early on in the book is, the greater the impact you want to leave on the world, or any aspect of life, the greater the risk you’re going to have to take.

The greater the risk, the more likely your are to fall flat on your ass.

Greatness requires risk . Mediocrity requires the desire for safety. The more you let fears dictate your decision making and what you aspire to achieve, the less you are going to accomplish.

To leave an indelible mark on the world, risk is a must. Not everyone has the balls to reach for the stars, or the desire to. To many, the stars exist in the small things, the simple pleasure’s in life. To some degree I envy them. I envy their ability to feel fulfilled with what they have. To not have that need to push their limits.

I’m going to live my life always wanted to push myself further. It’s just my make-up. It can result in greatness, but it can also result in failure. I’m prepared to risk the failure for the chance at greatness.

Ask the question: are you?

5. The most underrated commodity: Energy.

Time is money. Actually, time is much more important than money. What you do with your time will help you become a happier, healthier, wealthier, more successful, and more productive person. Money is nothing without the things we can trade for it. But time, time is everything, and how we use it will determine our legacy.

How do you make the most out of your time? With focus and energy.

The more energy we have, the more we’re able to focus, the harder we can work, the more we can laugh, the clearer we can think, the more we get done in less time, and the more free time we’ll have to do those things that we enjoy most.

Can we alter our energy levels?

Yes, and it has nothing to do with caffeine or any kind of drug, and everything to do with the kind of shape we’re in. When I’m in my best shape I have more energy, more focused, and I’m happier.

When we think about getting in great shape we think about the extra years we’re adding to our lives, and that’s great, but the quality to those years, days, and hours that we’re adding is the greatest benefit.

How to get in better shape and have more energy:

◦ Have a balanced routine that’s focused on improving strength, athleticism, and lung capacity: aesthetics will come.

◦ Dedicate 30-45 minutes 3-5 times a week to being active and to training. It doesn’t take a lot. You’ll get that time back in focused work, laughter, and in the heightened quality of your life.

How to create social goals to make an impact in the worldOnce established, a strong community generates a participatory energy that makes residents feel integrated and empowered. This sense of community brings out the best in people, and inspires them to do more for themselves and those around them.

In a study by the Urban Institute, researchers suggested that this empowerment leads to long-lasting and sustainable community improvement. The problem is that people often lack confidence in their own ability to generate a change. The solution to building this skillset and knowledge base lies within community development — a tactic that social workers spend their careers perfecting.

The Role of a Social Worker in Community Development

The idea behind community development is simple: residents take collective action to generate solutions to common problems. In working together to improve the quality of their lives, residents also address the socioeconomic barriers that often lead to poverty, crime, poor health, low property values, underperforming schools, and so on.

As part of their profession, social workers often generate community improvement programs and development projects that also allow for local citizens to contribute to their community’s development plans. Some social workers create possibilities directly with individuals; others assess community needs on a larger scale. They may plan and administer programs designed to help people with their immediate needs as well as those with more enduring benefits to the larger community.

The Many Titles of a Community Social Worker

The role of the social worker in community development is not permanently fixed — rather, they have varying roles depending on the needs of the communities they serve. They work for social services agencies, nonprofits, and grassroots organizations. Some of the titles held by those dedicated to social work and community development are:

  • Caseworker. Because a community is only as healthy, vibrant, and successful as the individuals and families that live within it, social workers in this field often assume the role of caseworker. In this role, social workers assess and address the needs of those individuals and families who make up the larger community they serve.
  • Community Organizer. As community organizers, social workers rally the community around various social issues and help align the community’s resources and energies to address their most pressing needs. Organizers empower individual community members to take on a larger role in the development and continued improvement of their community.
  • Project Manager. Community social workers take on the role of project manager to ensure programs are implemented correctly and within their original scope. As they understand the pulse of individuals and groups within the community, and how to motivate them, they’re uniquely positioned to prepare and administer projects.
  • Researcher. In order to drive community transformation and development, social workers need to research the root causes of a community’s challenges. They use this research to help develop community programs and advocate for policy changes to better the individuals and families they serve.

How Social Workers Impact the Community

The development of strong, vibrant, and healthy communities has long been a tenet of the social work profession. As facilitators, organizers, counselors, and advocates, social workers have an important voice in helping communities overcome the barriers to necessary change. They also provide the energy for transformation — empowering residents with the knowledge, resources, and capacity to self-direct and self-govern their lives and circumstances.

The Measure of Success in Community Development

Social workers gauge the success of their efforts to develop community health by looking at the statistics in the following categories:

Health Issues: Birthweight, immunizations, prenatal care, senior care, etc.

Economic Concerns: Poverty, unemployment, job availability, cost of living, etc.

School Success: Dropout/graduation rates, student mobility, academic standings, etc.

Family Concerns: Preschool participation, percentages of adolescent parents, etc.

If you want to strengthen communities, empower people to change their lives, and make a positive impact on the world, explore a career in social work with an emphasis on community development. Our Lady of the Lake University’s Master of Social Work (MSW) will give you the skills to address today’s challenges, tackle tomorrow’s opportunities, and leave a positive mark on the world.

Request more information, or call 855-275-1082 to learn more about OLLU’s online MSW program.

How to create social goals to make an impact in the world

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) may seem like a daunting undertaking. But, with a tangible action plan, large and small companies alike can pursue a CSR program that can positively change both the community and the company itself. Whether the motivation for change comes from the bottom up or top down, CSR has the potential to align a company’s goals with a mission for social good.

Here are five steps to get started:

1. Build from the Bottom Up

To be effective, a CSR program should be “owned” by employees at all levels. Each employee can contribute in his or her way, but each needs to be motivated to do so, both to feel a part of the program and to feel good about participating. How to get that buy-in? Get a mix of employees together with a group leader or facilitator to brainstorm ideas, articulate and understand the company’s culture and values, and identify what individuals are passionate about. As ideas develop, research the opportunities and the proposed organizations and have the group re-examine and refine the opportunities.

2. Decide on an Approach

A key decision is whether the company as a whole will exclusively support one or more causes, allow employees to pursue their own passions, or do a combination of both. For example, a company may have its employees volunteer for a day at a local food bank or help build a house for Habitat for Humanity. Or it may support individual efforts of each employee, who may, for example, conduct community education programs for families with a child with special needs, serve as a Girl Scout troop leader or coach runners who race to raise money for a charity. Or it may be a combination in which the company has a primary project but also supports individuals with their own projects.

3. Establish the Relationships

Next, establish the relationships with the community partners. In doing so, be sure to define expectations. For example, in what activities will your company or its employees participate, how often and when, and what additional contributions will it or they make? If your employees make financial contributions, will they be matched by the company? What do you expect of the organization to make the program successful? For example, is training or transportation needed?

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4. Communicate It?

My marketing friends immediately jump on the question mark. Of course, they say, communicate it! Market what you’re doing – internally and externally! But, as a company, you need to decide if pursuing the program because of the company’s values or the value it provides to your employees is enough. At a recent program about CSR programs for which I was a panelist, some companies said they pursued their CSR activities for their intrinsic value and did not pursue any marketing; others chose to shout it out. At a minimum, companies need to assess how best to communicate the program to the employees in order to foster employee pride and engagement.

5. Sustain It

It is valuable to communicate what you are doing because that will help to sustain and reinforce the program. Celebrate your work, but strive to do more. This helps to keep the program alive and employees engaged in continuing the good work you are doing. Establish goals for the program and develop a method to assess how you are doing. Report your findings regularly both internally and ideally externally as well, which will help to hold you accountable.

If the program catches on, celebrate the accomplishment, but do not stop there. See how it is affecting your company’s culture and value system. At some point, you may want to go to the next level by reflecting those values in your organizational structure and policies and creating a true social enterprise within your company as a whole. But these tips are just to get you started; the rest is up to you.

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How to create social goals to make an impact in the world

How to create social goals to make an impact in the world

How to create social goals to make an impact in the world

What happens when women run the economy? We’re about to find out

How to create social goals to make an impact in the world

How to create social goals to make an impact in the world

  • Everyone can make changes that will help the world achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Everything from recycling to writing shopping lists and air-drying clothes can help.
  • Technology is doing its bit, too, from online banking to apps that show the most sustainable produce.

“End extreme poverty. Fight inequality and injustice. Fix climate change. Whoa.”

So begins the United Nations’ Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World. “It seems impossible that the average person can make an impact. Should you just give up?” The answer, of course, is no.

Created five years ago, the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were intended to be a “shared vision of humanity and a social contract between the world’s leaders and the people”. Focusing on the gaps in development, and giving a helping hand to those left behind, they were designed not just to motivate policy-makers but citizens too.

But the social and economic shocks of COVID-19 have threatened that progress at all levels, and we need some fresh thinking. That’s why the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact Summit is this year being held under the theme of “Realizing a ‘Great Reset’ for Sustainable Development”. Sweeping changes are needed across businesses and societies to put us on a more sustainable path and meet the goals.

But many of us can also play a role, no matter how small. And it can start small.

How to create social goals to make an impact in the world

1. It begins at home

Some of the changes it recommends are simple, such as plugging the many appliances around the home into a power strip, so you can turn them all off at once and reduce standby power consumption. Air-drying hair and clothes and making sure you put a full load in the washing machine can also help – as well as saving you money.

Technology can help us save the environment in other ways too. For example, do you really need those paper bills and bank statements? Going paperless could help you contribute to the Paris Agreement on curbing climate change.

And next time you’re on social media, look out for interesting posts about topics like Gender Equality (Goal 5). We can all help raise awareness about current issues, such as how the pandemic has put hard-fought gains for women’s rights under threat, by sharing this kind of content with our networks.

Last but not least: reuse and recycle. It really does work – for every tonne of glass recycled, for example, an estimated 315 kilogrammes of CO2 is saved.

How to create social goals to make an impact in the world

2. Stepping outside

When you head to the shops or a restaurant, think sustainability.

Actions such as asking for sustainable seafood can have a big impact, and there are many apps that can help you make your choices. Making different choices can help too, such as buying “ugly” fruit and vegetables, which might otherwise go to waste, and using shopping lists to make sure you’re only buying what you really need.

And could you do your shopping closer to home? According to Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, our rapidly expanding urban areas may contribute about 60% of global GDP, but they also account for around 70% of CO2 emissions and consume a sixth of all resources. Shopping locally – if you are able to in your area – could help ease your contribution to this footprint, as well as help keep people employed.

Simple actions in your community and society can also have real impacts. These could include things such as donating clothes, books and furniture you don’t use, and making sure you and your family are vaccinated to protect against disease – which also aids public health.

And take advantage of your right to vote for the people you want to see running your country and local community, too, the UN says.

3. Making a difference at work

If you’re a home-worker, you may have already cut your carbon emissions significantly before you finish reading this sentence. But then again, maybe not.

“Energy management in buildings is generally more sophisticated than at individual homes” points out David Symons from engineering consultant WSP UK. The company’s research shows that in the UK commuters may have cut their emissions by 5% this summer, but could produce 80% more carbon this winter – if they turn the heating on. An analysis of 39 studies from around the world into the link between teleworking and emissions shows a similar pattern.

Where you work aside, you can help advance the SDGs as an employee by speaking up and getting informed. Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities highlights the multiple challenges that exist for vulnerable groups following COVID-19. One of the ways to help is by raising awareness.

How to create social goals to make an impact in the world

“Raise your voice against any type of discrimination in your office. Everyone is equal regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation, social background and physical abilities,” advises the UN. “Voice your support for equal pay.”

The physical separation of remote working has made many sustainable at-work initiatives, such as organizing a ‘No Impact Week’, much harder. But social media and communications technology can help with activities like mentoring, which can spread opportunity.

“Encourage your company to work with civil society and find ways to help local communities achieve the goals,” says the UN. Will employers be receptive to this message as they respond to multiple crises? Businesses like Deloitte are encouraging leaders to think ambitiously, using COVID-19 as an opportunity to “rethink” and “reboot” work.

If priorities are being reset, now might be a good moment to seize the initiative.