What is Impact?

Through impact we show that we are accountable to the public.

In impact statements we describe what taxpayers get for the money they have invested in the Land-Grant system. Impact statements also outline potential benefits that could come from continued support of Land-Grant universities.

Impact statements don't describe everything that Land-Grant universities do, but they can give people a taste of many ways they benefit from public research, education and extension.

What is an impact statement?

An impact statement is a brief, easy-to-understand summary of the social, environmental and/or economic impact of research, teaching or extension efforts. It lists accomplishments and the payoff to society. And it should answer the questions: "Who cares?" and "So what?" about the work.

Most often you'll want to write a complete impact statement that includes an entire page full of information. However, for these letters, write a single paragraph of impact for each project. Be brief, but pack a punch.

Try to find numbers to demonstrate a change in:

  • economic value or efficiency
  • environmental quality
  • social well-being, and/or
  • health and well-being

Do include potential impact (see example 5), especially in basic research and teaching. Sometimes this means you must connect the reality of a researcher's work with the potential of additional work.

Also include anecdotal impact (see example 4). If your anecdote describes how you helped one person, pick an example that represents what's happening on a broader geographic area or to larger group of people. Anecdotal impact can stand alone, but works better if you also have some measure of what's happening to the whole group that your anecdotal example represents.

Remember, impact is more than a description of process. (e.g. You need more than "We held four meetings, which 40 people attended.")

Also, impact is more than a description of research results (e.g. more than: "We found that soybeans planted during certain dates produced 10% larger yields.") -- but such a description is better than process. When you list them, accomplishments should be tied to potential impact. (e.g. "In 199x dollars, a 10% soybean yield would have increased Indiana farmers' incomes by $xxxx.")

If you haven't already, take a look at some examples of one-paragraph, summary impact statements.


What does JOE say about impact?

Here are some articles from the Journal of Extension (JOE) that deal with impact.

Program Development in a Political World — It's All About Impact (Journal of Extension, Feb. 2003)

Developing a Program Evaluation Instrument for Texas 4-H: A Work in Progress (Journal of Extension, Aug. 2001)

Results? Behavior Change! (Journal of Extension, April 1999)

Cost-Benefit Impact Statements: A Tool For Extension Accountability (Journal of Extension, Oct. 1998)


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