For charities and social enterprises, 'impact' is the difference you make. By focusing on your impact, you can make more of a difference through your work. This means planning what impact you want to have and how best to achieve it, collecting information about your impact, assessing what impact you’re having, communicating this information and learning from it.
Inspiring Impact has developed two sets of principles—for charities and funders—to identify what good impact practice looks like. The principles are complementary and have been developed through sector-wide consultation.
The Code of Good Impact Practice provides broad, agreed guidelines for focusing on impact. It sets out a cycle of impact practice and a series of high level principles to follow. Each principle includes a brief description of how your impact practice would look if you were applying the principle, an explanation of why it is important and some ideas about how to implement it.
The Code of Good Impact Practice
The Code of Good Impact helps charities to improve their impact practice with eight broad principles for focusing on impact and a cycle of impact practice. These principles can be applied to all kinds of charities and social enterprises, and they can help funders and commissioners to better understand good impact practice for the organisations they fund.
1. Take responsibility for impact and encourage others to do so too
Impact is embedded in the culture of your organisation. All staff and volunteers see it as their responsibility to create impact through their work, to play their part in showing how their work makes a difference and sharing what they learn from it with others. Leaders of your organisation see delivering impact as their primary responsibility and duty.
2. Focus on purpose
You’re clear about your purpose as an organisation: the difference that you exist to make. You’re able to explain your intended impact in meeting this purpose. You can describe how you will create this impact, plainly and in ways that everyone can understand.
3. Involve others in your impact practice
At all stages of impact practice you look for appropriate opportunities to involve others. As a minimum this includes involving those with direct experience of the organisation’s activities. It could also include other organisations doing similar work or funders.
4. Apply proportionate and appropriate methods and resources
You’re realistic in your impact practice—you apply time, effort and methods proportionate and appropriate to the scale and scope of the work. If necessary, you keep things simple and do what you can to focus on impact. You choose methods that fit with the values and ethos of your organisation, and you’re clear about the purpose of collecting impact information, who will use it and for what.
5. Consider the full range of the difference you make
You know that you might have an impact beyond your intended beneficiaries or a negative as well as a positive impact. You acknowledge that in some cases you will balance positive impact on your beneficiaries with negative impact on others. You seek to understand why your work might have a longer term or wider impact than anticipated. Equally, you know that change may be short term, have occurred without your involvement, or be the result of other initiatives.
6. Be honest and open
You’re honest and open about the impact you intend to have, and your findings on the difference you have or haven’t made, as well as what you have learnt from these findings and how you will act on these lessons. You’re honest and open about the scope of your impact practice. You and your funders discuss what works, what doesn’t work, and what you can learn.
7. Be willing to change and act on what you find
You’re ready to change as a result of finding out what impact you are or are not having. You commit to learning from your impact assessment and you actively use it to inform strategy, planning and delivery. Your funders are also willing to learn and change.
8. Actively share your impact plans, methods, findings and learning
You communicate your impact plans, methods, findings and learning to ensure others know what you’re trying to achieve and to contribute to a wider view of what does or doesn’t work. You share appropriate information inside and outside the organisation. You acknowledge the limitations of your findings.
Download the full Code of Good Impact Practice report and the two page summary in English.
Download the full Code of Good Impact Practice report and the two page summary in Welsh.
Download the full Code of Good Impact Practice report in Portuguese.