1. Knowledge Hub
  2. Introduction to Impact Cloud

What is an Impact Strategy?

This article gives an overview of the module Impact Strategy on Impact Cloud, and the two frameworks available: TOC and 5 Dimensions of Impact.

Defining your Impact Strategy.

The base of your impact management strategy is your impact framework. In the Impact Strategy module, we align to a relevant framework such as the Theory of Change or the Five Dimensions of Impact (by the Impact Management Project). This is also the step where you define your outcomes, metrics, and link them to standards like the Sustainable Development Goals, IRIS+ (by the GIIN), etc. 

The subsequent example will describe how to start your Impact Strategy from our Templates, which we highly recommend if this is your first time using the platform and you want to see how the full process works. You can also learn how to create a Theory of Change from scratch and document the Five Dimensions of Impact framework

1. Templates

It is quite simple to create and utilize publicly available templates for ToC or IMP frameworks. This step is highly recommended if you want to see how your Impact Strategy is implemented during the data collection and data analysis phases.

  1. Click on "Impact Strategy for Impact Maker." Then, click on "Select Template" (right above New Strategy) and start typing the name of our sample template, "Accelerator-Health." Click on it and then click on "Choose this ToC" and name it "Accelerator-Health Example." Save.



  2. As you can see, our templates have predefined ToC and IMP maps according to the template's impact theme. We have also identified indicators and their alignment to other frameworks such as the Impact Management ProjectIRIS+ , and the Sustainable Development Goals. As time goes by, we will continue to add more templates for different use cases and themes. 
  3. Once you have selected the template, you are free to make any editions by clicking on the button "Edit Strategy." 

2. Theory of Change

Now, we will demonstrate how to create a Theory of Change from scratch. 

  1. To create an Impact Framework aligning with a Theory of Change methodology, click on "New Strategy" and select "Theory of Change" under "Frameworks," as shown below.



    The purpose of linking inputs to activities, outputs, and so on is to demonstrate how our interventions are directly related to the change we are working to achieve (impact). 


  2. For each step of the ToC, you can add metrics associated by selecting the "Add Standard Metrics" or "Create Custom Metrics" buttons in the middle. Selecting "Add Standard Metrics" will take you to our Metrics Catalog, through which you can search for metrics that have already been designated as appropriate by various researchers and organizations. The catalog can be navigated through the categories shown on the left or by typing a keyword in the search box (Search for Metrics). Once you find the metric that is relevant to your organization, select it by checking the box and click on "Add to Set."

    When you are done selecting all the standard metrics you need, click on the back arrow ( <- ) above the search box to go back to your ToC.


  3. If you click on "Create Custom Metrics," you will be able to create your own metrics if those that you desire are not found in our Metrics Catalog. The name of the metric is the actual metric that will be shown on the ToC. The format is the type of data that will be taken in. The polarity helps you define if a higher number is a positive or a negative result. By hovering over the (?) icons, you can get additional tips and helps in the Advanced menu, which can be reached by clicking "Advanced (Recommended)." All the starred options (*) must be filled out, but the rest of the options are for your own use to clarify the metric.


  4. Finally, if you want to measure certain variables in a different frequency, such as semi-annually, quarterly, etc., you can click on "Show Indicators," then select the other frequency and start selecting or creating the appropriate metrics.

    NOTE: The option "Show Indicators" and the view presented below is only available when you click on the name of the Theory of Change, which takes you out of the wizard. To go back to the wizard, click on "Edit" in any step of the ToC. 

3. Five Dimensions of Impact

Now, we will demonstrate how to create an IMP framework from scratch. 

In this example, we will create an Impact Framework aligning with the Five Dimensions of Impact methodology.

Click on "New Strategy." Enter any name under the field "TOC Name," and under the field "Frameworks," select the option "Five Dimensions of Impact." We will leave the rest of the fields blank and Save them. 


  1. The process for filling out the Five Dimensions of Impact is almost identical to the ToC. By clicking on the "IMP Wizard" button (top right), you can start developing the framework.

    If you are new to this framework, you can review the Impact Management Project website and the IRIS+ metrics catalog before continuing on this tutorial. These resources will give you a better understanding of the appropriate use of this framework. Also, note that this framework is mostly recommended for impact investors and businesses directly serving individual stakeholders.

  2. When you first begin, you must identify the effect(s) you want from the organization's operations (same meaning as outcomes). Then, on each dimension (What, How Much, Who, Contributionm and Risk), these effects are selected in the drop-down above "Add Effects."

  3. Next, the related metrics are added to each dimension using the options "Add Standard Metrics" or "Create Custom Metrics."

Selecting "Add Standard Metrics" will take you to our Metrics Catalog, through which you can search for metrics that have already been designated as appropriate by various researchers and organizations. The catalog can be navigated through the categories shown on the left or by typing a keyword in the search box (Search for Metrics). Once you find the metric that is relevant to your organization, select it by checking the box and click on "Add to Set."

When you are done selecting all the standard metrics you need, click on the back arrow ( <- ) above the search box to go back to your ToC.


 

If you click on "Create Custom Metrics," you will be able to create your own metrics if those that you desire are not found in our Metrics Catalog. The name of the metric is the actual metric that will be shown on the strategy. The format is the type of data that will be taken in. The polarity helps you define if a higher number is a positive or a negative result. By hovering over the (?) icons, you can get additional tips and helps in the Advanced menu, which can be reached by clicking "Advanced (Recommended)." All the starred options (*) must be filled out, but the rest of the options are for your own use to clarify the metric.


 

4. Finally, each of these metrics must be assigned to one of your effects by clicking on "Assign Effects.

    5. The Risk section is slightly different in that you select the effect from the drop-down and click "Add risks." This will bring up the below menu, where risks are analyzed according to IMP.

     

    6. Like ToC, you can create an alternate IMP framework for data collected semi-annually, quarterly, etc.

    You have now created your Impact Framework on Impact Cloud! This is perhaps the most critical step in the entire impact management process. The next steps will build upon your strategy actually to add your portfolio of companies.