How much difference did it make?
- Quantifies the contributions of a program toward a long-term outcome.
- Reveals whether a program or a change in a program contributed to long-term outcomes (i.e., changes to the social, economic, civic, and/or environmental conditions to which the program was targeted).
- Requires a comparison of indicators; either an examination of program participants over time or a more careful examination of your program participants against a separate control or comparison group.
- Provides comparable data about programs to inform decisions about continuing, expanding, or reducing funding based on cost of attaining impact.
Impact evaluations tend to be the most complex in design. Not only does the evaluation of impact carefully examine how much a program contributes to one or many long-term effects, it often incorporates findings from other evaluation types (i.e. context, process, etc.) applied along the planning and implementation path.
Impact is determined when one can:
- compare the condition(s) of a group before and after a program occurs and state that the program has changed the condition(s) of the group;
- measure the value added by a program compared to either an existing program or alternative practices.
Many questions can be answered through impact evaluations, including: To what extent does a program increase the number of retained editors? What is the value of transforming participants into retained volunteer editors through a program? How much more or less impactful is a program compared to other programs that also aim to increase retained volunteer editors?