Building a Nonprofit Impact Model

5 part series focused on creating a timesaving framework for defining, measuring and communicating your Impact

Part 1: Defining Your Impact: What is your Why?

As often happens in the nonprofit sector, certain words, verbiage and/or models start to be implemented by all sorts of stakeholders.  Funders start requiring logic models or theories of change with their applications or government grants require leveraged resources and evidence-based programs.  While these frameworks and grant requirements are often based on research and have good intentions they can be a challenge to implement within community and faith based organizations. Impact is a great example of a nonprofit term that has multiple definitions and uses. On the first page alone of a google search I found numerous uses of the term “impact” specific to the nonprofit sector, including; collective impact, substantial impact, community impact and society impact. 

I have found the most applicable definition of nonprofit impact is “the benefit or contribution you want to make to society.” What is great about this definition is that it is a direct connection to your organizational Why.  So what is the definition of your Why?

Your Why is:

  • A belief
  • A purpose of being
  • The reason you do what you do
  • Your mission
  • Your cause
  • Your identity

Developing a Why statement is one of the key steps to determining your intended impact. Your “Why” statement is simply the difference you want to make in the world.  Your Why statement is the first step in determining your intended impact and will set the stage for the next four steps in the impact model development framework. 

In looking at the complete Nonprofit Impact Model, by starting with Impact we are actually starting with the end in mind.  It is important to know what we are aiming for before developing the framework, tools and communication to prove we are on target and good stewards of the financial resources awarded.