The first step in the cycle is Plan. This will support you to be clear about what you are trying to achieve, for whom, and why. Only then will you be able to assess whether your planned sequence of activities can be expected to create the desired results. This kind of clarity is also the first step towards deciding what data to collect, so you can use the results to understand your contribution to change on the ground.
In this section, we provide advice and practical worksheets on the following aspects of planning your impact practice:
Developing your theory of change:
Theory of change is an approach that describes the change you want to make, and the steps involved in making that change happen. The following sections take you through the main stages of developing a theory of change.
- Define your issue and audience – Who is your programme or service for, and why do they need it?
- Agree your impact and outcome goals – What difference do you want your programme or service to make?
- Articulate a plan for change – What activities will you carry out to make change happen?
Planning your data collection:
- The five types of data – What are the five types of data used in impact practice?
- Review your existing data – How useful is your existing data?
- Decide what data to collect – What data do you need? How will you collect it?
- Involve users in your practice – Why is it important to involve users in your impact measurement and how can you do this effectively?
- Research ethics and data protection – How do you conduct ethical impact practice and follow best practice for data protection?
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.