Learn more about evaluating

Social impact

Often community programs have evolved over time and become accepted as best practice without consideration of the evidence-base for their program, and evaluation to assess the impact of the program does not occur. This is understandable as many not-for-profit organisations are resource constrained and maybe not have access to research evidence – or they just may not know where to look or who to ask. 

So how do you know whether your program is achieving what it set out to do? And how do you demonstrate that? By evaluating your social impact!

What is Social Impact?

Social impact is the sum effect of any intervention or program implemented to address social disadvantage. 

Impact, in general, is the longer-term social effects or consequences achieved through the strategies and activities, outputs and outcomes of an intervention, program or organisation. Impact may be positive or negative, intended or unintended, and may occur directly or indirectly. It may not be possible to directly attribute impact to an intervention, program or organisation, however it may be possible and relevant to build a compelling argument for contribution towards an impact through a combination of direct and indirect evidence.

When developing your program you want to ensure it has positive social impact – that you’re making a real difference. The ability to evaluate and report on this impact allows you to illustrate exactly how your program activities lead to positive social change.

Why Evaluate your impact?

To track the progress of programs

Measuring social impact allows those working in your organisation to hold themselves accountable for what you do and how you do it. It also allows you to identify whether or not you are achieving what you set out to do.

To inform strategies & program improvements

Measurement allows you to test assumptions made in your program development. Success can be tracked by measuring outputs, outcomes and impact, and provide a deeper understanding as to why your program may be succeeding, struggling or failing to achieve what it intended to.


Not-for-Profits work in and with the community. Through measuring the impact of your program you are able to understand what works more effectively for the community, or target populations, you serve.


Increasingly Not-for-Profits will be locked out of funding conversations if they fail to capture, articulate and communicate how they are making a difference. Through evaluation, you are empowered with the ability to gain support of funders, and increase their confidence in your ability to meet program outcomes.

New to evaluation? No Problem!

Take our free online courses and learn the foundations of social impact evaluation.