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10. Our impact

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Guidance on writing the 'Our impact' section of your business plan.

Background

As a voluntary organisation, your business activities need to achieve both a social and financial return. Your impact is the change that your organisation is going to make for the people and communities you work with – this is your ‘social return’.

You should be able to communicate your impact clearly and concisely. You probably do it every day when people ask you about what you do. You may already have an ‘impact statement’ that works with your brand.

However, telling people about the difference you make will be much easier if you can actually measure your impact.

Measuring impact doesn’t have to be complicated and difficult – it should be proportionate to the size of your organisation. If you only have two members of staff, it’s unlikely that you have time to conduct a full social return on investment (often shortened to SROI) or other detailed analysis. But there are ways you can learn as you go along, as long as you plan it in to your activity.

The Measuring Up Tool is a straightforward, step-by-step self-assessment tool that allows you to review and improve your organisation’s impact practice. 

10.1 Impact summary

Start by giving a short summary of your impact

Think about who is reading the business plan and why they might be interested in your organisation’s social impact.

If you’re making a proposal to a funder or an investor, you may want to highlight any areas where your impact meets their aims. If you’re a social enterprise, describe the link between your financial return and your social return – will a greater social impact create new opportunities to generate profit?

If you’re writing a business plan for internal use, make sure your intended impact is clear and linked to your mission; this well help you keep focused and make sure that you can measure your progress towards it.

10.2 Impact table

Describe your process for measuring, learning from and communicating your impact

Put the information in a table, as in the example below.

You’ll find an editable version of the table in our business plan template; you can add columns to it if you need to.

The change you want to make

Your impact statement or outcome.

 

What you plan to measure

Indicators that will tell you that you’re making a difference. These can be ‘hard’ (eg number of people in employment) or ‘soft’ (eg how people are feeling – less isolated, more independent, able to cope).

How you will measure it

The process for recording information (eg one-to-one interviews with clients, outcomes STAR, referral data, independent evaluation).

How you will use what you learn

What you’ll do with the impact data to improve your products and service (eg board discussion, all-staff brainstorming/data review, beneficiary focus group).

How you will communicate what you learn

Impact data is not just for internal use. It can be useful to share what you’ve learned from your impact measurement. A short, highly visual impact report can be a fantastic marketing tool, and an opportunity to bring together people and organisations within your sector at a launch event or briefing.

Page last edited Jun 18, 2018

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