The cycle of good impact practice

‘Impact practice’ is what an organisation does to plan, understand, communicate, and improve the difference it makes in the world. The cycle of good impact practice takes you through the key steps that are involved, with practical resources and advice throughout.

The cycle is made up of four steps and you can click on each one for further guidance and support. The steps can be followed in order, or you can select those that feel most relevant to you.

1. Plan: Plan how to create your desired impact

Step one provides advice and practical worksheets to help you:

  • Develop your theory of change – this includes defining your target audience, agreeing your goals, and articulating a plan for change.
  • Plan your data collection – including understanding different types of data, reviewing your existing data, determining what further data you need, involving users in impact practice, and ensuring ethical practice and compliance with data protection regulation.

2. Do: Measure your performance against key goals

Step two clarifies how you can collect and manage high quality data. It then introduces specific data collection methods – surveys, interviews, focus groups, case studies, creative methods, and observations – and explains how to use them effectively.

3. Assess: Make sense of the data you collect

Step three explains how to systematically review your data, how to analyse quantitative and qualitative data, and how to understand your impact within a wider context.

4. Review: Communicate the results, and learn how to improve your work

Step four explains how to interpret and use your findings to improve your work. This includes guidance on data visualisation and impact reporting.

Image shows the 4 stages of cycle of good impact practice: Plan, Do, Assess, Review

Starting to measure your impact

Take your first steps into measuring, understanding, and improving your impact through good impact practice.

More impact resources on this page
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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.