Lexico by Oxford defines impact as <the action of one object coming forcibly into contact with one another; a marked effect or influence>. However, there is a lot of ambiguity and confusion around what the term ‘impact’ truly means. How should it be defined? What kind of measurement should be done and how to accurately do it?

Official Definition Of Impact, According To The United Nations

<Impact implies changes in people’s lives. This might include changes in knowledge, skill, behavior, health or living conditions for children, adults, families or communities. Such changes are positive or negative long term effects on identifiable population groups produced by a development intervention, directly or indirectly, intended or unintended. These effects can be economic, socio-cultural, institutional, environmental, technological or of other types. Positive impacts should have some relationship to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), internationally-agreed development goals, national development goals (as well as human rights as enshrined in constitutions), and national commitments to international conventions and treaties.>

Official Definition Of Impact By The European Commission

<In an impact assessment process, the term impact describes all the changes which are expected to happen due to the implementation and application of a given policy option/intervention. Such impacts may occur over different timescales, affect different actors and be relevant at different scales (local, regional, national and EU). In an evaluation context, impact refers to the changes associated with a particular intervention that occur over the longer term.>

Broad Considerations On Impact

  • An impact can be intentional or non-intentional, direct or indirect, positive or negative, short-term or long-term;
  • Measuring impact means using numerical, quantitative data
  • It’s important to frame the context of the impact desired or being analyzed to interpret the data correctly and to establish correct cause-effect relationships;
  • Impact, from a broader perspective, isn’t often just the effects of a given action or program but rather the result of multiple causes.

Everyone Is Talking About Impact Measurement Nowadays

When it comes to business and entrepreneurship, transparency around impact measurement is unquestionably in the spotlight. Investors, executive boards, managers, employees, funders and communities everywhere are demanding proof of impact. They are trying to understand whether their money, time and energy are making any difference.

However, speaking about having an impact and making a difference, don’t mean much per se – evidence (data) of how much progress is being done is crucial.

That’s why understanding how we are having an impact (and how much) has the potential to foster progress and societal development. By knowing if some specific action or program actually works we get better equipped with the knowledge to transform and improve our economy, our communities, and our planet.

Businesses And Corporate Impact

By understanding how much economic, social and environmental value organizations can create, they can leverage to have a stronger positive impact. Therefore, it is important that corporations, NGOs and social entrepreneurs companies and organizations define their tools and frameworks for measuring their impact.

> Find all about impact measurement in our impact measurement definition.