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Understand your audiences by discovering your own Social Impact Culture Type

Embolden’s research has revealed that each person--regardless of what hats that person wears--leans toward one of the three Social Impact Personality Types: Investor, Activator, or Connector. One of the best ways to get inside the minds of your organization’s stakeholders is to first get in touch with your own Social Impact Personality Type. Then, you will be better equipped to appreciate the perspectives of your audiences and in turn develop more tailored, effective communications strategies to engage and build loyalty with the people you care about.

Knowledge is power. That’s certainly the case for philanthropic organizations striving to make an even deeper impact in the communities they serve. As the face of philanthropy changes, the sector’s success becomes increasingly dependent on understanding today’s social impact culture, where work, life, community and wellness have converged.

How can you begin to understand how today’s social impact culture is influencing the way your stakeholders think and feel about your work? What perceptions is your organization creating in the minds of donors, grantees, employees, civic leaders, and community partners? That depends on how your audiences approach “doing good.” Not everyone approaches social impact in the same way, which creates both a challenge and an opportunity for your organization. 

Three Social Impact Personality Types: A Snapshot
Investors prefer to engage in social impact activities that are independent and do not require scheduling dedicated time or working directly with others in the pursuit of a charitable endeavor.
Connectors prefer to engage in social impact activities that are social in nature, involving the opportunity to get together with others.
Activators are passionate about participating in the causes they care most about, and they tend to focus on “changing the world” and impacting one or more social issues on a broad scale.

Ways Each Type Thinks About Social Impact

Here are four social impact activities Activators are likely to enjoy: 

1.    Giving an increasing amount of money each year to a favorite charity based on the organization’s demonstrated results to improve the quality of life for the people or causes it serves.

2.    Giving money to three different charities collaborating to achieve a specific goal, such as increasing the graduation rate within a particular school, discovering new drugs to treat cancer, or rebuilding a community center in a blighted neighborhood.

3.    Giving to disaster-relief efforts after a hurricane, tornado, or earthquake.

4.    Giving money to charities with the condition that the charity report back on the results achieved with the money (e.g., 100 meals were served to homebound seniors).


For “Connectors,” these four things are typically appealing: 

1.    Hand-delivering checks to charities as an opportunity to say “hello” and “thank you” to the people working so hard to improve the lives of others.

2.    Giving money to a best friend’s favorite charity.

3.    Collaborating with family members during the holidays to make one big gift to a single charity instead of many small gifts to different charities.

4.    Encouraging children to add money to a piggy bank designated for charity and then mailing the money to the charity in an envelope with pictures drawn by the kids, or giving online with a credit card and emailing the pictures.

“Investors” typically like to:

1.    Structure an estate plan to include several bequests to favorite charities.

2.    Give appreciated stock to a charity instead of cash, to minimize capital gains tax exposure.

3.    Set up a donor-advised fund to organize annual giving to charities.

4.    Establish a budget at the beginning of the year to include a percentage of income designated for gifts to charity.

Ready to Discover Your Type?

Embolden has created a free, two-minute survey to give you a quick read on your type. Only the full diagnostic can offer definitive results, but you’ll get the idea!

What’s Next?

Discovering your own Social Impact Personality Type will inspire you to focus on today’s social impact culture mindset. That’s really important because social impact factors are influencing human behavior across industries, including not only philanthropy, but also financial services, retail, and health care. Philanthropy has become a key component of healthy, well-rounded lives across generations. That’s good news for philanthropic organizations in their important quest to improve quality of life in every community.  

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This blog is an original work of the attributed author and is shared with permission via Foundant Technologies' website for informative purposes only as part of our educational content in the philanthropic sector. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this text belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect Foundant's stance on this topic. If you have questions or comments, please reach out to our team.

About the Author

Ann-Marie Harrington is a partner at Embolden. Founded in 1998, Embolden has built a track record as a leading digital marketing firm specializing in high-growth sectors, such as financial services, healthcare, and philanthropy, including more than 125 community foundations. Ann-Marie is a nationally-recognized speaker and expert on the power of emerging online communications technology to drive an organization's growth.