Impact or results?
When speaking of achieving objectives for a project, I’ve heard a lot of people speak of the “intended impact” and I’ve read quite some “impact reports”. I know it’s a question of language, but often people use the word “impact” when in fact they should use the word “results”. Impact in the evaluation field has a specific application to long term effects of a project. The DAC Glossary of Key Terms in Evaluation and Results Based Management (pdf) produced by the OECD contains the most widely accepted definitions in this field. Impact is defined as:
“Positive and negative, primary and secondary long-term effects produced by a development intervention, directly or indirectly, intended or unintended”.
And “results” is defined as
“The output, outcome or impact (intended or unintended, positive and/or negative) of a development intervention”.
Consequently I believe that when we produce a report that shows media visibility generated by a project, this is a short term output and should be called “results” rather than “impact” which applies to more long-term effects.