Subscribe to this blog to receive announcements about best practices.

Making An Impactful Impact

I overheard someone say, “Our impact statements need to be more impactful.” This comment stuck out to me because it really highlights what so many organizations face daily. You know you need to show your impact, but what is really meant by your impact? What is an impactful impact statement?

Most importantly, an impact statement needs to align with your organization’s mission and what your supporters find important. If your mission doesn’t match your supporters’ intent, people will lose interest in your organization.

So where do you start? First, discuss the following questions with your team and your close supporters. Why does our organization exist? What is our mission?

Next, define your SMART goals, which show both your organization’s outputs and outcomes. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timed. If your goals aren’t SMART, then you will struggle to fulfill, measure, or meet your goals. For example, Chocolate For All will increase chocolate distribution (specific) by 5% (measurable, actionable, and realistic) in the next 12 months (timed).

But what did I mean by outputs and outcomes?

Outputs are the things you do regularly. You served meals to 100 people. But what did those outputs accomplish? What was the impact of your outputs? This is where outcomes come into play.

Outcomes are the result of your outputs. Those people that you served meals to—what was the result of those meals? Were they able to become food secure? Were they able to do better in school because they weren’t hungry? This is the wow factor of how what you do at your organization really is starting to change the world for the better.
Once you’ve defined your goals, you need to start tracking the right information, so you know how you are progressing toward those goals. What do you need to track? Who is going to track it? Where?

Finally, you need to share your accomplishments and your impact! Let your supporters celebrate what you accomplished together. What about those missed goals? Those need to be shared, too, but with a plan on how you will use a missed goal to motivate your supporters.

Want to dive into making more impactful impact statements and unpack all the questions you need to answer when showing impact? Blackbaud University created the OBP: Fundraising—Impact workshop to walk you through the ins and outs of impact. Sign up today and join the impact conversation in the Organizational Best Practices Community here.

Posted by Melissa Rancour on Mar 21, 2019 2:09 PM America/New_York

Leave a Comment

Log in to post a comment.

Such a great breakdown on how to truly define what "impact" we should be tracking. Thank you for sharing!
  • Posted Mon 25 Mar 2019 04:05 PM EDT
We've been working on the impact of the fundraising we are doing! This is great information and I plan on bringing this up in our next Development Team meeting.
  • Posted Mon 25 Mar 2019 05:35 PM EDT
Great dissection of how to create an effective impact report, thanks for sharing this!
  • Posted Tue 26 Mar 2019 09:32 AM EDT
Thanks for your insight on impact.
  • Posted Tue 26 Mar 2019 10:42 AM EDT
Thank you for sharing this! We recently transitioned to SMART goals and reading your insight of what 'impact' truly means has really resonated and something I'm going to share with my team. 
  • Posted Tue 26 Mar 2019 02:07 PM EDT
I love the thought of thinking about our impact in terms of outputs and outcomes. Will have to bring this to my team to help us!
  • Posted Wed 27 Mar 2019 09:45 AM EDT
Our Development Team is in the process of updating / re-creating our impact statement as well.  Thanks for the tips!
  • Posted Wed 27 Mar 2019 12:11 PM EDT
Thank you for the great article! Each year we create a 1 sheet of brief descriptions of our outcomes. It is a great way to give our supporters a snap shot of our impact.
  • Posted Wed 27 Mar 2019 01:35 PM EDT
Appreciate the distinction between outputs and outcomes.  Mentally I think it's easy to conflate the two,  but explaining it this way illustrates that one is definitely better suited to for long term/strategic goal perspectives.   

Thanks for sharing. 
  • Posted Wed 27 Mar 2019 03:30 PM EDT
This such an important training as I still see confusion in funding proposals between outcomes vs outputs. 
  • Posted Thu 28 Mar 2019 01:26 PM EDT