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Defining Impact


June 2014 | Research Report

The word “impact” is everywhere these days, but not everyone uses or understands it in the same way. Why does this matter? A clear definition of impact is necessary to develop an effective and rewarding philanthropic strategy, since impact definitions drive decisions and ultimately move dollars. Differing—but unvoiced—assumptions about the definition of impact can also create communication difficulties between donors, grantees, and beneficiaries. This report explores current definitions of impact in philanthropy and international development, with a particular focus on the ways impact definition can affect work serving women and girls. It aims to help donors develop their own definitions of impact and to clarify the many (sometimes conflicting) uses of the term “impact.” In places, it uses real-world examples from the perspective of those working in the women and girls space to illustrate the repercussions of those uses.


AUTHOR

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Cecily Wallman-Stokes

Social Impact Fellow
Center for High Impact Philanthropy


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PRICE OF IMPACT INDEXTM

How much does it cost to provide an individual with short-term hunger relief, to interest a student in STEM, to reduce substance abuse, or to enhance arts appreciation?

Our partner, the Impact Genome Project®, has developed the Price of Impact IndexTM (POI), which provides the average cost of achieving over 100 specific outcomes in areas spanning the arts, economic development, education, the environment, health, science & technology, and more.

Click below to learn how your cost of achieving a specific outcome compares to the average (and ranges) across the U.S. Use this information to benchmark your spending, improve your budgeting, engage with non-profit partners, and increase your impact.

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