What is Impact Mangagement?
Updated: Mar 10, 2022
When I say I am an impact management consultant, I often get asked, “But, what do you do?”
Impact = to have an effect or influence on another person, thing, or action.
When an organization wants to make a lasting impact, it aims to create change in an existing condition. Consequently, impact takes many different forms. However, given this definition of impact, any effect or influence should be observable or measurable. Meaning, we can gauge whether our impact is positive, neutral, or negative.
What is Impact Management?
Impact management is the process of using data-driven decision making to plan, organize, and implement impact with a measurable outcome in mind.
I started seriously thinking about impact after nearly a decade of working in the social sector. Even though I was involved in operations, grants, and evaluation, there were always challenges to collect and report on measurable outcomes. The established processes rarely focused on what indicators demonstrated the impact of our actions or programs.
I thought - there has to be a better way to plan, organize and implement for impact.
So, I started looking into different methods to produce intentional and measurable impact and applying those methods to different scenarios. A series of various methods helped centralize impact within an organization to benefit their programs, services, and stakeholders.
Why focus on impact?
Because the majority of us want to make the world a better place.
Humans are hard-wired to contribute. When we help each other - have a positive impact - our bodies release what neuroscientists call the “happiness trifecta,” a rush of oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin. Each of these plays a role in social bonding, motivation, and mood.
Since organizations are composed of individuals who work together, it’s no surprise that purpose in organizations compels individuals to feel happier, be motivated, and form better teams.
The recent trend toward stakeholder capitalism, which serves the needs of all stakeholders, not just shareholders, allows the private sector to drive positive change. When done well, those employed have the opportunity to be part of a better future. Some organizations create impact through corporate purpose while others through charitable giving. While there are many different ways to drive change as an organization, the fact remains that focusing on your impact is an investment. You want it to count.
It is then essential to understand and know how to measure the outcome you want. We all use metrics and key performance indicators or KPIs to help us meet goals and measure success. These markers help us understand and share what has been done and make adjustments so that our work can be even better. The same is true when we engage in making meaning for our stakeholders. When we want to make a difference, we must ensure that we measure what matters. That way we can understand and then share the current and potential impact of what we do.
The foundation of every impact management process starts at the end, with a specific outcome in mind. Think of outcomes as the result you want to achieve or the condition of well-being that you want. It helps to ask yourself - What would be different as a result of these actions? Then consider how to measure that change. Measures help us know if what we do is working. The most important measurements will tell us something about the effect of our work. These most important measures will serve as our KPIs, indicators to help us know we are making a difference. An established set of indicators will guide your impact management process, informing how you organize, implement, and adjust to best achieve and scale your outcome.
For impact management to be effective it is vital to understand the relationship between your organization’s objectives and your impact goals. There may be organizational results that align with the difference you want to make. By managing your impact with your organization's objectives in mind, you can maximize your ability to create positive outcomes both internally and for your community.
When organizations actively manage their impact, they can:
More quickly and effectively make decisions
Create stakeholder-aligned communications
Extend their reach and reputation
Attract like-hearted leaders to their organization
See the difference they make for the future
Impact management helps form a strategy that maximizes the change you want to see in the world while aligning your impact initiatives and organizational objectives. Knowing how your community investment integrates with your organization maximizes your ability to give. Because when you invest in giving back, you expect the world to be a better place.
Impact management is just one tool that equips people with the resources and support they need to purposefully create a lasting impact on the places they call home. What would it take for you to make a positive impact?
Curio412 is a consultancy for businesses and nonprofits who want to improve their bottom line, build relationships, and scale meaningful impact. We believe in creating lasting impact. Which is why we share knowledge and tell stories to keep nonprofits, business, social enterprises, and charitable organizations informed about current trends, ideas, and impact.