How to think about your social impact

True Impact's framework through inputs, outputs, and outcomes

How True Impact frames the logic model can be understood as inputs, outputs, and outcomes. Each is an important piece of the work, however, the true social impact can be measured through your delivered program’s impact on a person's life or wellbeing, which is also known as outcomes. Below, we’ve mapped out what inputs, outputs, and outcomes are. 

What are inputs?

In the logic model, this is the Program Development stage

Inputs are the resources needed to deliver the program. These investments are typically the easiest to measure: money, equipment, volunteer time, and more. These metrics can help quantify your level of generosity or commitment but not the value they ultimately produce.

What are outputs?

In the logic model, this is the Reach stage

Outputs are the goods and services a program generates. Typical examples of outputs include students taught, meals served, resources donated, trash picked up, medical treatments delivered, and services provided.

But how valuable are the outputs to the people they’re delivered to? They may be extremely valuable, not valuable at all, or somewhere in between. It’s impossible to tell without assessing the result of the outputs.

What are outcomes?

In the logic model, interim outcomes is the Learn and Act stages while outcomes are the Succeed stage

Outcomes define how a person’s life or well-being has changed as a result of a program. Common outcomes of philanthropic initiatives include improved health, higher income, improved school performance, a cleaner environment, and increased safety.

Outcomes tell us how our philanthropic donations improve society (i.e., created social value). And by measuring the outcomes of alternative programs, we can figure out which interventions work best, so we can guide our future donations and program management decisions to improve our impact and help even more people.

When working with nonprofits to determine their social impact, we often ask, “And then what?” You run classes to teach youth about eating nutritiously. And then what? Those youth learn about cooking and growing food. And then what? Those youth eat more fruits and vegetables at home after class. And then what? Their health is improved as a result of eating healthier. 

That is your social impact. Outcomes are the end result of the various inputs and outputs of a program. 

Examples of Inputs, Outputs, and Outcomes

Focusing on outcomes (and being able to differentiate them from inputs and outputs) will help ensure your donations are actually creating social value. Here are some typical examples.

Cause area




Disaster relief

$35,000 donated in emergency COVID-19 relief funds

10,000 PPE distributed

150 people protect or improve their health


$500,000 given to endow a new scholarship program 

15 first-generation students receive scholarships

12 students graduate from post-secondary school who otherwise wouldn’t have


A company provides $75,000 in funding to train farmers in sustainable planting techniques 

50 smallholder farmers are trained in sustainable planting techniques

4,500 trees planted by smallholder farms

750 metric tons of CO2 reduced from the atmosphere

Diversity, equity, and inclusion

A company’s DEI staff provides 50 hours of training for teachers in equity and inclusion best practices

Students participate in equity and inclusion workshops 

Students report feeling safer and experience fewer acts of violence in the community

Hunger and nutrition 

$15,000 donated in cash and food; 500 hours donated by volunteers

3,000 meals served to children in need

Increased food security reported across 90% of recipients