The cycle of good impact practice: Agree your impact and outcome goals

What difference do you want your programme or service to make?

A clear description of what you want your programme or service to do enables you to plan activity to measure and achieve those goals.

To agree your goals, answer the questions below or download our worksheet for further guidance.

  • What long-term change (or impact) are you aiming for? What is the ultimate aim of your programme or service? What sustained effect would you like it to have on individuals, families, communities, and/or the environment?
  • What shorter-term changes (or outcomes) are needed to create that long-term change? What changes do you expect to see in service users along the way; for example, in their knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviours?
  • Does existing research tell you anything about how to achieve the change you want to see? Are there any studies you could draw on by government, academics, or other organisations delivering similar services? What do you need to equip your users with, so that they can achieve the long-term change you are aiming for?
  • What best practice can you draw on? You could search for organisations delivering similar services who have shared their insights and learning publicly.

You can read more about impact and outcome goals in our guide to theory of change in 10 steps (steps 3 and 4).

Shared measurement and outcome frameworks

Shared measurement involves charities with similar goals reaching a common understanding of what to measure and developing the tools to do so. When thinking about your impact and outcome goals it can be useful to look at how others, who are working with the same people as you, define and measure their impact. Read our report on shared measurement to find out more.

We have sourced some helpful evidence and outcomes resources for organisations working with the following groups of people. You may find these useful in planning and carrying out your outcomes data collection, or in understanding the evidence base for your model.

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Plan

The cycle of good impact practice defines what impact practice is and articulates a clear path to success. It follows a four-step cycle. This page is part of Plan, the first step in the cycle.

Other resources from this step in the cycle

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This webpage has been adapted from the Inspiring Impact programme, which ran from 2011 until early 2022 and supported voluntary organisations to improve their impact practice. More information about the Inspiring Impact programme.

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