What is Impact?
Answer the question, "So what?" (What difference does it make, to whom? What's the benefit?)
What is the reportable and verifiable difference a land-grant program makes in the lives of citizens?
Ultimately, the public expects us to be accountable and to show the impact of our land-grant programs. Impact is the difference our programs are making in people's lives.
-Impact reporting is not:
- A description of process
- The number of papers published
- The number of people attending a meeting
-Impact reporting is a summary of these three points:
- Situation: What is the issue or problem and why does it matter to your state/region/community?
- Response: Summarize what you did this project period to address the issue.
- Results/impact: What changes in knowledge, action(s), or condition(s) occurred as a result of #2 and how does this help the larger community? If possible, include specific numbers, percentage increases, dollars saved, etc., that capture positive changes.
See "Examples" tab
USDA-NIFA guidance for Impact Statements and Accomplishments reporting:
The impact statement in your reports will be a primary tool for briefing leadership and legislators about what has been accomplished with the public funding invested in grant programs. Refer back to the non-technical summary you provided at the outset of your project. This impact statement should reflect the results and conclusion of your work that will provide benefits to broad audiences. It is imperative that this portion of your report be written in plain, non-technical language. Please do feel free to use numbers that will be meaningful to non-scientific audiences such as community leaders, politicians, taxpayers, and farmers. You will need to translate results of your work into lay terms – things that everyday people can relate to. Consider reporting things like changes in economics, community dynamics, environmental conditions, or agricultural norms.
How to accomplish this:
Revisit the logic model for your project if you have one. Impact statements should arise from the outcomes described in a logic model. A good impact statement in a final report has three elements:
1. State the issue in terms that will connect with a broad audience. Think back to what need you were seeking to address when you proposed the project.
2. Describe, in general terms, who did what, and the results. Specific quantitative values or trends help validate the impact.
3. Translate those results into broader outcomes in the real world. Engage your peripheral vision in order to remember how the work you are doing is important to the bigger picture and then explain that simply and directly.
For each goal listed in your project initiation form, there will be a numbered list of objectives. Please continue to use this format by numbering and restating the objective you are reporting on. Be certain to report on ALL objectives. For each objective, report for this reporting period on:
1) Major activities completed / experiments conducted;
2) Data collected;
3) Summary statistics and discussion of results and
4) Key outcomes or other accomplishments realized.
For the impact statement and #4 above, remember that impacts and key outcomes/accomplishments are defined as changes in knowledge, action, or condition.
A change in knowledge occurs when the participant (scientist, trainee, or citizen) learns or becomes aware.
Examples of a change in new fundamental or applied knowledge significant enough to be included in a publication; methods and techniques; policy knowledge; improved skills; or increased knowledge of decision-making, life skills, and positive life choices among youth and adults.
A change in action occurs when there is a change in behavior or the participants act upon what they have learned (adoption of techniques and methods or a change in practice).
Examples of a change in actions include: application and actual use of fundamental or applied knowledge; adoption of new or improved skills; direct application of information from publications; adoption and use of new methods or improved technologies; use of skills by youth and adults in making informed choices; adoption of practical policy and use of decision-making knowledge.
A change in condition occurs when a societal condition is changed due to a participant's action.
Examples of a change in conditions include: development of human resources; physical, institutional, and information resources that improve infrastructure technology transfer; management and behavioral changes and adjustments; quantified changes in descriptive statistics (trade balance, export sales, etc.); better and less expensive animal health; changes in conditions (e.g., wages, health care benefits, etc.) of the agricultural workforce; higher productivity in food provision; quantified changes in quality-of-life for youth and adults in rural communities; safer food supply; reduced obesity rates and improved nutrition and health; or higher water quality (e.g., increased water clarity) and a cleaner environment (e.g., measurably reduced pollution).