Get Started with Tactics for Impact Management

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to: 

  • Describe the importance of tactics for Impact Management.
  • Discover how Impact Management tactics apply to your organization.
Note

This module takes a deeper look at some of the Impact Management tactics that were introduced in the Impact Management Basics module. If you haven’t yet completed the Basics module, we recommend you do so first.

The Case for Impact Management

The case for Impact Management can be summed up by this understanding: By learning to collect, manage, and analyze data about your work, you are able to help everyone at your organization make more efficient and informed decisions. And it doesn’t stop there: More informed decisions lead to more impact—which is pretty powerful!

Social impact executive analyzing data to advise the best path for colleagues

The best part is, any organization can employ tactics for Impact Management. No matter your focus, maturity, audience, or resources, Impact Management can be tailored to your needs. It can also be implemented to make your data collection and analysis more efficient and meaningful, in support of your mission.

An Overview of Tactics for Impact Management

So, what’s the first step toward more impact? We recommend starting by reviewing a set of essential competencies for Impact Management and understanding how each one can be applied to your own organization. Take a look at the list below and consider how you might develop these competencies at your organization.

Competency
Definition
In Practice

Impact as core to strategy

The idea that making a difference—the delivery on your organization’s mission—is equally as important as, and integrated with, other factors in your organizational strategy and operational management (such as hiring, finance, or market analysis).

From values to strategic choices—like cutting programs that aren’t producing their intended effects, and publicly sharing that decision—organizations exhibit a culture where impact is core to strategy.

Evidence-based decision-making

Are you willing to be open minded about different ways to carry out your mission? Evidence-based decision-making means taking detours when evidence suggests it will be beneficial, and basing all organizational decisions on good data.

An organization without an Impact Management strategy might simply trust managers to make reasonable decisions. But, with data available for evaluation, better decisions can be made to improve outcomes.

Continuous evidence building

Impact Management is a long-term commitment to ongoing data collection. But what data to collect? To figure that out, you’ll want to draft your theory of change, create a unique learning agenda, and then determine a data collection plan. Completing those steps will ensure you have the tools to continuously collect and process impact data—rather than at singular moments.

A continuous evidence plan allows organizations to monitor impact by mapping evidence, determining which questions need to be answered, and deciding which parts of their program should be tested; this is daily work, taking place over time.

Integrated financial management

At its core, integrated financial management is the use of data and evidence to align performance outcomes with financial management practices for better financial impact tradeoffs.

Concerns about financial bottom lines can naturally lead organizations to consider scaling back some services. An organization with an Impact Management focus, however, can consider the implications of decisions to scale back, which may extend beyond the budget (such as impact on participant experiences and outcomes).

Participant-centered program management

When an organization undergoes participant-centered program management, it prioritizes accountability to those served by its programs.

Organizations best employ participant-centered program management when their programming is informed by the input of those served. Those opinions and thoughts are acknowledged as a valuable resource and are key to determining how services are delivered.

In the next unit, we’ll take a closer look at how you can prepare to implement continuous evidence building at your organization.

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Source: Trailblazer Community Impact Survey 2019