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Planning your impact and evaluation

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Understanding the issue you want to address in your work, and identifying the difference you want to make, are important first steps for impact measurement and evaluation.

Articulating your outcomes (changes or benefits that happen as a result of your work) and impact (broad or longer-term effects of your work) can help you:

  • plan new work
  • communicate the purpose of what you do to current or potential funders and donors
  • decide what information to collect to evaluate your programmes and services.

Understand the issue

Understanding the issue you want to address in your work is the starting point for impact planning. You might do a ‘needs assessment’ – a review of the challenges that individuals or organisations you work with face so you can work out how to address them. You can also consider existing assets and resources, and where there are opportunities to involve them in developing solutions.

Read about needs assessments.  

Identify the difference you want to make

Planning tools help you describe your intended outcomes and impact. Two useful tools are:

  • The Planning Triangle (developed by NCVO Charities Evaluation Services) – for organisations less experienced in impact planning, or who want to plan and evaluate a single project.
  • Theory of change – for organisations planning or evaluating more complex initiatives.

Find out more about planning tools, or read our guides on creating a planning triangle, and building a theory of change.

Decide what to measure

Planning also involves identifying what information to collect about your work and the difference it makes. Developing a monitoring and evaluation framework will help you decide what to measure.

Read about monitoring and evaluation frameworks and find out how to develop one.

Brief an independent evaluator

Some organisations commission external, independent evaluators to help them understand what difference they have made, and where there are opportunities to improve their work.

Find out how to write an evaluation brief and how to cost an evaluation.


Page last edited Jan 21, 2022

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