Five Myths and a Question About Impact

Everyone seems to be talking about it. Most say they want it. But who really gets to define impact and for whom?  A recent collaborative effort between our team at the Center for High Impact Philanthropy and Women Moving Millions had us reflecting on this question as well as five myths that seem to surround all this discussion about impact.

Myth 1: When folks talk about impact, they mean the same thing.

Myth 2: There’s no impact unless you caused it.

Myth 3: Impact is always positive.

Myth 4: There are impacts that simply don’t allow for measurement.

Myth 5: If you don’t see change, you’ve had no impact.

Next week we’ll be sharing a pre-release version of a white paper at the Women Moving Millions annual summit in New York. The white paper, What Are We Talking About When We Talk About Impact? (working title), includes our analysis of how multiple stakeholders – individual donors, researchers, program evaluators, institutional funders, advocates – use the term.  We’ll be presenting a few key insights from that paper, including some of the truths behind these five myths.

But for those of you who won’t be joining us in New York, we’ll be posting the paper on our website and will spend the next few weeks on this blog examining questions and myths concerning impact and what the truth really is for anyone aspiring to practice high impact philanthropy.