What Is Impact?

In this topic, we provide a definition of impact and explain some key concepts.

What is impact?

Impacts are the effects that can be attributed to the activities of your project or organization. These effects can be either positive or negative, intended or unintended, direct or indirect.

Impact-Oriented Work versus Measuring Impact?

Measuring impact denotes the quantitative and/or qualitative measurement of the impact you are pursuing. It can be be a one-off activity or part of impact-oriented work. It is focused on gathering and analyzing information.

Impact-oriented work goes beyond measuring impact. You can see it as a cycle, a continuous process. It starts with making visible the impact that you want to achieve and the intention to gear every decision and action accordingly. It is a participatory process in which you continue to learn from previous findings. The emphasis is on impact as a driver.

Output – Outcome – Impact?

Output: The direct, quantifiable, results of the activities of a project or organization

Outcome: The changes and effects that occur as a result of the activities of a project or organization

Impact: Social or systemic changes that occur (partly) as a result of the outcomes. These effects can be both positive and negative, intended or unintended, direct or indirect.

Source: Epstein & Yuthas (2014). Measuring and improving social impacts.

We found two entertaining videos which explain you the concepts of impact and impact measurement very easy and clear: