To encourage people to give, we need to explain what will change if they do give, and that’s impact. When we try and encourage giving we often talk about costs, but that can be pretty dry and often makes people think their giving is insignificant in comparison to the overall costs of ministry and mission. Impact shows what people’s giving achieves, and it is far more motivating to those who give. Impact should be shown clearly in our mission and vision plans, and the more we engage with our community the greater impact we will have. Impact is about how we are realising our vision as a church, such as bringing more people to Christ, supporting vulnerable people or creating a sense of community cohesion in the parish.
Outcomes not Outputs
Whether you’re talking about impact to your most committed givers or applying for a grant for the first time, remember that impact is about outcomes not outputs.
Outcomes are the difference made by outputs. They aren’t always things you can count or easily measure but they show what impact has been made as a result of an action or activity.
Output: A lunch club for older and vulnerable in your community has been meeting weekly for 6 months, with 30 meals served each week.
Outcome: Older and vulnerable people have a new network in the village, helping them to overcome loneliness and feelings of isolation
Think about what your church does and try and explain it by describing its outcomes not its outputs.
Reporting on impact can sound like showing off – look at all the marvellous things we have done! However, in truth it is the opposite – it is showing what God is doing through us, the enormous privilege of being used by him to transform lives and communities. Showing impact can embolden us, and give us confidence, because we see where God is already working and want to join in. Impact reporting is not about what we’ve done, but what God has done through us.
Good practice in impact reporting is showing consistently and creatively throughout the year what impact the church has made - during our services, in leaflets and newsletters and in social media stories. Remember to communicate your impact to both your church family and the wider community.
There are lots of free tools available to help charities measure their impact:
The Diocese of Hereford has produced a really helpful toolkit Crossing the Threshold with lots of helpful tips and advice for how to measure and communicate the impact of a church’s mission and ministry
Impactasaurus is a free survey tool for small charities to measure the social impact of their community projects.