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07 Apr. 2015 | Comments (0)

There is an important distinction between, and progression from, outcomes to impact. Meeting a particular outcome may represent a step toward impact, but it is not impact itself. In general, outcomes represent specific and measurable changes to program participants that happen as a direct result of program activities. Impact represents longer-term changes, often influencing communities or systems. Download Framing Social Impact Measurement to find out more.

W.K. Kellogg Foundation characterizes impacts as “results expected seven to ten years after an activity is underway—the future social change your program is working to create.”

The more causality, or attribution of results to a specific intervention, can be established, the more rigorous the evaluation of impact. Therefore, an important element of “impact” is the indication of a counterfactual, or “what would have happened anyway.” This requirement suggests that an intervention has impact only if it produces social outcomes that would not otherwise have occurred.

About Framing Social Impact Measurement

Corporate philanthropy is increasingly aligned with business strategy, and evaluating the performance or value of a company often now includes evaluating its social impact. But what does that mean in practice? Impact can mean different things to different groups, depending on their objectives and their role in delivering a social program. And then there’s the question of data, and how it should be used to demonstrate impact. These and other topics are addressed in Framing Social Impact Measurement, which aims to help you think about social impact measurement in the right context. Explore our full portfolio of thought leadership on social impact measurement here.
  • About the Author:Alex Parkinson

    Alex Parkinson

    Alex Parkinson is Principal of Parky Communications, a communications agency specializing in sustainability and CSR reporting and communications. He serves as the Co-Leader of The Conference Board Cor…

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