How to make an impact – learn to write an impact statement!

I want you to imagine this situation:  You are in charge of a project that is costing your company millions.  But you have everything under control.  You have kept a very close eye on every step of the project and, because of that, you are actually two weeks ahead of schedule.

The fact that you are two weeks ahead of schedule is an outcome – something that happens as a result of an activity or process.  And being two weeks ahead of schedule is great!  But why it is important?  The answer to that question comes in your impact statement.

An impact is the effect one thing has on another.  So, the impact of being two weeks ahead of schedule is that it saves the company money.  An outcome and impact statement for this could be:  Because of tight management throughout each step of the project, our team is two weeks ahead of schedule.  [outcome]  In this phase of the project, this equates to a savings of €40,000. [impact]

I assure you, adding that you saved the company €40,000 will get more notice than if you simply tell them you saved them two weeks.

Let’s look at another example.  You received a €1,000 grant from an environmental foundation to do community outreach.  You had a very successful event this past weekend and 100 children attended.  As often is the case, you will have to prepare a post-funding report back to the organisation that gave you the money to show how you spent it and the impact it had.

The fact that 100 children attended is nice, but it doesn’t tell me why it’s important.  And this kind of impact is harder to measure because there isn’t a monetary value attached to it.  In order words, you can’t say, “We made €X this weekend.”

In this case, you have to look at the goals you set for the event.  What were you trying to accomplish?

If your event was to show children how litter on the street ends up in the ocean and its effect on wildlife, you would need to show that your event had its desired impact.  To measure this kind of impact, you often have to plan ahead with something like a survey.  Particularly useful in this kind of situation is a survey which uses the same questions both before and after the event.  This will help show a difference in knowledge or attitude.  For example:  Before the programme, only 20% of the participants knew that litter in their city ended up in the ocean.  By the end of the programme, 100% were aware of this fact.

Direct quotes from participants are also effective.  Statistics are nice, but a quote from a 10-year-old saying he is going to organise a litter pick up at his school really hits home.  Of course, if you take any photographs or get quotes, please check your local regulations regarding privacy and consent.

Where to use impact statements

As in the example above, impact statements are usually needed in reports back to funders.  But they can be very useful in the for-profit world:

  • Project summaries show management the effect your work has on your team and/or your company.
  • Short impact statements on CV shows a potential employer why you would be great for the job.
  • Impact statements are particularly effective when writing up your end-of-year accomplishments for your annual review.  Think about it.  Everything else being equal, who is going to get the bigger bonus?  The person who writes: We finished the project two weeks ahead of schedule or the person who writes:  We finished the project two weeks ahead of schedule, saving the company €40,000.

So, next time, don’t just think about what you do.  Think about why it’s important.

What are your biggest challenges in English? Contact me and let me know. I’d love to hear from you. And don’t forget to download my free guide: Top Tips for Conference Calls. Inside, you will find tips that will not only make your next conference call/video call easier but will also help you improve your listening skills in general.

I am also developing a free course specifically as an introduction to the world of non-profits and activism. It’s almost finished – so stay tuned! 

That’s it for this week. Stay safe wherever you are.