Learning style:Read and Reflect
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What is impact?
Impact means change
Impact is the change that we see in society after our (business) activity.
Your impact can be:
- ecological –e.g. carbon reduction due to use of your solution
- social –e.g. reducing social isolation
- economic — e.g. better wages for workers
A combination of the above is possible too.
Impacts can be positive or negative, direct or indirect, intended or unintended.
When referring to impact in this context, we focus on achieving a positive social or environmental impact. That is what we aim for as a social entrepreneurs.
Your social model to achieve impact
In a theory of change, you define the problem or challenge your social enterprise is tackling. You clarify the change or impact you want or expect to see after a business activity. You also think about the order in which these changes will logically appear.
This logical sequence makes up your social model that you later connect to your business model. Together the impact model and business model define your social enterprise.
Next we will discuss the different building blocks for the theory of change.
The difference between output, outcome and impact
Outputs describe what you do. They’re the activities that keep you busy as a social entrepreneur.
Outputs can usually be counted: number of workshops organized, numbers of beneficiaries or clients reached, etc.
Outcomes describe what you achieve. They are the changes that occur at the beneficiaries’ level. They cannot always be counted quantitatively, for example a change in attitude or behaviour.
Impact describes the long-term outcomes. Impact is usually measured at a higher level ( e.g. sector, society)
Outcomes and impact
Here’s a great way to think about the logical pathway in which your outcomes will occur and the overall impact of your Social Enterprise.
It helps you focus on which changes your activities should bring about first.
Please note that this exercise assumes your target group has been reached and accepts your offer.
Take a minute to reflect on how you would phrase steps 1 to 7. Don’t overthink it!