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What is Impact? How to Measure It?

Feb 20, 2021 | by Yosy Christy Natalia

At Artemis, we talk a great deal about organizations, NGOs and individuals engaged in the creation of socially, environmentally sustainable, and meaningful impact. Many of our blogs talk in detail on ways through which ‘impact’ is created, how funding for such projects is achieved and where the global impact investing market stands.

In this blog, we shall discuss ways through which impact can be measured and why is impact measurement a crucial exercise. Before diving deep, let us first define what we mean by ‘impact’.    

What is ‘impact’?

The effect/s or changes brought about by a project or an initiative in the long term is termed as ‘impact’. Social impact measurement as a practice gains significance as it serves as a medium to understand the quantifiable and qualitative impact achieved by undertaking a particular project or a set of activities.

Remember: Impact need not be just positive, it can be both positive or negative, planned or unforeseen.

Before we go on to discuss ways to measure impact, here’s taking a quick look as to why impact measurement exercise holds significance.

Why measure it?

  • To set accountability
  • Win the trust of stakeholders, funders with timely reports
  • Use the data to show progress achieved and attract new funders, collaborators 
  • Findings and results can help improve future activities, initiatives
  • Help make a more robust marketing plan

Now, let’s move on to discussing ways through which impact measurement can be done. To make it easier to follow, we’ll break it down into points.

The approach Now, let’s move on to discussing ways through which impact measurement can be done.

The first step in your impact measurement exercise is to decide what measurement approach to choose. Do you want to use the Theory of Change Model or add an extra dimension by measuring the SROI or also measuring the 5 dimensions of Impact. The vision of your impact project should be clearly established. At this step, it is important to define who all among your stakeholders and other parties would be involved in this measurement exercise.

Define focus

Next up, define the focus of your measurement process – what to measure, what to prioritize. One of the simplest ways to figure this out is by mapping your Theory of Change. 

Tip: Try reverse-methodology – ask yourself why is this impact measurement exercise needed. The answer/s will help in highlighting the focus areas of your impact measurement exercise.   

Develop indicators 

Now, you will need indicators that would indicate that the outcomes that have occurred are the result of the activities undertaken and the extent to which those outcomes have taken place. The indicators & data points will also depend on the initial methodology you decided to follow. 

Read more:

What Are Impact Indicators & Metrics?

Data collection

The next step will be to decide how to collect data that will facilitate impact measurement. While calculable, measurable data is important to evaluate it and ‘evidence’ it, some indicators cannot be measured in a conventional ‘quantifiable’ manner. Qualitative data, therefore, comes into play.

Artemis Impact Impact Measurement APP

Read also:

Guide to Writing Survey Questions for Impact Data Collection

You can learn about qualitative and quantitative data in detail through our blogs.  

Besides this, you will also need to decide what tool to use for data collection – surveys, questionnaires, interviews, case studies, or a mix of all. The target group from where data will be sourced, the sample size – all this will now need to be ascertained. 

Tip: Avoid bias while sourcing data from your target group. You can take help from existing models of surveys, questionnaires, case studies but do try to develop and include your own questions and survey queries. You can check out our guide to writing survey questions for impact data collection. 

Make sure you source high-quality, unbiased data. Ensure security to personal data sourced from respondents. Study your data, analyze and learn from it to further improve your activities and enhance your desired impact. Remember, this data will act as a goldmine of insights that will help you build a more robust impact project, secure future rounds of fundraising, collaborations and also fix accountability to your stakeholders.

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