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.
Donors have a particular obligation to seek clarity and consensus with regard to deﬁnitions of impact, as their deﬁnitions often carry disproportionate weight: programs can have more of an incentive to satisfy funders than beneﬁciaries.
Our hope is that it will be useful to donors developing their own deﬁnitions of impact; we also hope to clarify the many (sometimes conﬂicting) uses of the term impact and the real-world repercussions of those uses.
To that end, we present patterns of impact deﬁnition from three main perspectives:
- a) evaluation professionals;
- b) funders; and
- c) beneﬁciaries, particularly women and girls.
We have also attempted to keep our “gender and bias lenses” on, highlighting where certain deﬁnitions may favor or discriminate against certain groups or situations. As illustrated in the preceding pages, impact does not mean the same thing for every per-son or organization in philanthropy and inter-national development. In other words, “what we talk about when we talk about impact” depends on who is talking and who is listening!
With all of these considerations in mind, it is clear that there is no one “right” or common deﬁnition of impact for every person in every situation. Good deﬁnitions are inclusive, but above all, they are useful in clarifying a path to action.
Learning and benchmarking are key steps towards becoming an impact giver. If you are interested in giving with impact on Impact Investing take a look at these selections from Giving Compass.
Looking for a way to get involved?
If you are interested in Impact Investing, please see these relevant events, training, conferences or volunteering opportunities the Giving Compass team recommends.
Are you ready to give?
In addition to learning and connecting with others, taking action is a key step towards becoming an impact giver. If you are interested in giving with impact for Impact Investing take a look at these Giving Funds, Charitable Organizations or Projects.