5 Trends in Social Impact Consulting for 2023
From day-to-day program management to advising on broader strategy, consultants are a vital link in the social impact chain.
As a multi-layered industry in its own right, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has its in-house professionals—with titles like Social Impact Lead or CSR Manager—as well as a wide array of consultants. Social impact consultants may help with storytelling, finding the right employee giving software, directing corporate giving, running volunteer programs, and so much more.
Some consultants get their start within an organization’s CSR program, others switch careers to find more meaning in their work. Many rising MBAs are now being specifically trained for the field, with over half of whom would even take a pay cut to work in the field according to a study from the Yale School of Management.
No matter their background, social impact consultants bring unique ideas and talents to the organizations they work with. In 2023, already a year defined by urgent social and economic insecurity, those perspectives and talents will be relied upon more heavily than ever before.
Here is what’s in store for social impact consulting this year and beyond.
5 Trends in Social Impact Consulting for 2023
1. Social impact storytelling needs to get real
In-house stakeholders, partner organizations, and consumers alike have a keen instinct for poor social impact storytelling. From the year-end impact report to the underreported good deeds employees do every day, there are always more opportunities to improve.
Whether the message is jumbled, making no clear case for why an organization is committing resources to a particular cause, or if it seems to come from the wrong place, making social impact seem like some public relations stunt, bad social impact storytelling can damage even the most effective programs.
The takeaway? Social impact consultants should be driving the discussion on what broader narrative their clients’ employee and corporate giving and volunteering initiatives contribute to.
2. Tech platforms optimized for all types of employee engagement will gain traction
Many employees thrill in the social aspect of a day out volunteering. Others prefer to quietly set a recurring payroll donation so they can support causes they care about over the long term.
No matter their style, giving your clients’ employees the opportunity to find more meaning in their work will help them feel happier, more productive, and more likely to stick around.
In fact, one recent survey shows that purpose-driven organizations are seeing no less than 40 percent stronger employee retention than their competitors.
For social impact consultants, that means now is the time to start (or restart) the conversation about adopting a social impact tech platform that’s specifically designed for enthusiastic employee engagement.
3. CSR programs should respond to emergencies and longstanding issues alike
Social impact consultants often try to keep their fingers on the pulse of the many causes their clients’ employees care about.
That often means effectively communicating the organization’s core cause areas and identifying opportunities for employees to get involved. In that respect, building out a robust program is the main challenge.
However, social impact consultants are often sought out for advice on how to respond to natural disasters, too. Reason being: Employees are eager to use their company-backed donation match dollars to help in times of crisis. The latest CECP data shows that disaster relief matched donations saw the highest rate of growth last year, at an astounding 208 percent.
To learn more about how Deed and our network of social impact consultants is helping our shared partners respond to the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, visit our public campaign.
4. Playing matchmaker between like-minded organizations will be crucial
Ever work with that idyllic social impact team, who have all of the resources and all of the passion but no clue which nonprofit they should support?
With so many nonprofits to choose from around the world—Deed’s database has over two million and counting—it can be difficult to find the organization that checks all the boxes, from mission to geography to capacity, and social impact consultants are increasingly called upon to play matchmaker.
Where to start? Some social impact consultants ask nonprofits to nominate themselves for matchmaking on their websites. This can be an effective way to start a relationship with an organization that you may not have otherwise known about.
The more useful social impact tech platforms also offer employees, program leads, and social impact consultants the ability to “Nominate a Nonprofit” for inclusion within their network. By starting with your clients’ own favorite organizations, your chances of nourishing long-term relationships and making a lasting impact will be greater.
5. Identifying and uniting purpose-driven teams spread throughout large organizations is mission-critical
From the outside looking in, it can be difficult for a social impact consultant to attach themselves to just one department of their clients’ organization.
Bounced emails, neverending threads on project ownership, and meetings about meetings are really just wasteful steps getting in the way of rallying the social impact champions in the organization and making a difference together.
This is especially true of large organizations, where large teams spread across time zones need someone like you, the social impact consultant, to help pull their various efforts into one place.
As Chad Haertling says in “Finding the Purpose Fit”:
At the end of the day, we need to be able to talk with our colleagues about how important causes affect their day-to-day lives. Sometimes that will mean engaging them on their deeper passions. Other times it means asking them to take on extra responsibilities at work. We need to be prepared for both kinds of conversations, because that’s what it will take to leverage the full muscle of organizations to do good in the world.
How do social impact trends affect day-to-day work?
The link between the larger social, environmental, and economic phenomena operating in the world today and our work as social impact consultants is not always clear.
Many social impact consultants are asking themselves: How can I make sure my clients are well-positioned to respond to long-standing causes and the news of the day?
After all it may seem like the complexity of these issues necessarily means our efforts to help must be complex as well. But from environmental protection to the looming global recession and even the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, your clients’ employees should always take first priority.
You are a leader in the organization in your own right, with some responsibility to encourage employees to thrive. Further, fostering their organic involvement with causes they care about will help you determine which areas best suit your clients’ unique interests and abilities.
The bottom line
Social impact consultants are the link between an organization and its deeper purpose. As such, social impact consultants have a responsibility to leverage every tool at their disposal to make doing good a part of daily life for interns and executives alike.
Deed is a workplace giving and volunteering platform that puts people first, because user experience shouldn’t stand between you and doing good. We help social impact consultants build authentic links with in-house CSR and diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) teams alike to centralize all their programming, from emergency fundraisers to fun volunteering events, and engage diverse employee resource groups, with the data and insights they need to drive engagement.
We foster genuine human connection across departments and time zones by empowering employees to support causes they care about together, both in-person and online. Everyone’s passion can be met; Deed showcases over two million nonprofits and counting. Our vast payment infrastructure is backed by trusted names like PayPal, who securely process billions in donations per year—to help you give with ease and confidence.
Now imagine all your clients’ community’s good deeds happening on a single, exceptionally designed platform—with you and your colleagues at the switchboard, watching an enterprise transform into a positive force in the world.