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There’s evidence to show that today’s youth are increasingly interested in making a positive social impact through their careers and business models. Social media rapidly exposes both the good and bad practices of businesses and young people are responding like never before in demanding that businesses, organizations and even political leaders are combining profits with a purpose. As customers, they are seeking out businesses that strive for the greater good of our communities and those abroad and opting to spend their vacation time in ways that assist others.

As social impact projects, initiatives and business models start sweeping the world, what exactly does it all mean?

Broadly speaking, social impact is how organizations, businesses or individuals’ actions affect the surrounding community. It may be the result of an activity, project, program or policy and the impact can be intentional or unintentional, as well as both positive or negative. The social impact can be felt by people directly associated with that organization or individual, or have a more far-reaching effect on people in different communities, states and even countries.

But more commonly, the term “social impact” is used to define actions which have a positive impact on communities. It’s similar to “social good”, but the change is more drastic and something we should all be striving for.

One of the most important things to keep in mind about social impact is not just talking about what you believe in, but taking action on it. With the rise of social media, it’s really easy to “share” and “like” posts and feel like you’re doing your bit, but to really make a social impact, it needs to be more about action.

The way you spend your money sends a strong message to businesses and companies about their social impact practices. Whether it means opting for the fair trade option or divesting from companies who are having a negative social impact, each and every decision you make as a consumer can speak loudly. The internet is a wealth of information about ethical business practices and you can find out everything from company environmental policies to how they treat their workers, and then make decisions about how you do (and don’t) want to support.

You can also get active in your local community, whether it be with a political organization with whom you share a vision or a charity you feel strongly about. Often charities have enough people power but not enough money, so your social impact can be through raising funds or a personal donation.

One of the most important things to remember about social impact is that no individual action is too little. The problems of the world may seem vast and overwhelming, but each person doing their bit can make a huge difference and is something we can all feel good about.