Impact Strategy, aka Theory of Change, aka Outcomes Framework – all nonprofit organizations should have one of these, right? Right!

I know what you’re thinking: Of course I have an Impact Strategy. It’s in a PDF in my Grants folder. All funders ask for one. BUT where else does it live? Who else knows of its existence (other than your grant writer)?

If your Impact Strategy is the thing that only comes out when your need to submit a grant, this article is for you. At ResultsLab, we believe that a solid Impact Strategy is at the core of your organizational practice. This is why: Your Impact Strategy is your North Star – it guides everyone and everything in your organization to know what direction you are going and how you are going to get there.

Without a clear Impact Strategy, you risk mission drift, resource inefficiencies, lack of clarity, and ultimately, poorer outcomes.

If you think your Impact Strategy could use a bit of revitalization, here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Blow it up!: Create a poster or banner where your Impact Strategy can be on display for all to see – staff, clients, and funders – or make small copies that hang in every conference room. Put a copy on your website to help anchor the general public to the work you do.
  2. Link to Staff Goals: As your North Star, the Impact Strategy guides all organizational work. Create staff goals that are anchored in achieving some element of your Impact Strategy. Staff should see themselves reflected in the organizational impact strategy, and they should be able to articulate how their work fits into the larger picture.
  3. Tie to Measurement: Perform a serious data audit to ensure that your data collection is aligned to proving the impact you hope to achieve in your Impact Strategy. If is doesn’t align, is it really data you need to collect?
  4. Imbed at all Levels: Either monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually, your Impact Strategy should be front-and-center in organizational discussions. At all levels of the organization, regularly revisiting the Impact Strategy will ensure it doesn’t get lost while you’re putting out fires. Make it a part of staff performance reviews (are you accomplishing your goals?), include it in quarterly all-staff meetings (how is our work tied together to accomplish our larger vision?), and orient new board members to it as a foundational document that drives all that you do (how can leadership help us drive this forward?).

Don’t have an Impact Strategy? Does your Impact Strategy need a refresh? Let us know how we can help. We love this stuff! Creating an Impact Strategy is the core of our Design phase.