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What do some of the terms I see in nonprofit Impact Receipts and our Funder Analysis mean?

Read through our glossary of terms below to better understand terms you might see in an Impact Receipt (a completed social impact report) or your True Impact Funder Analysis.

  • Contribution Claim - The portion of a program's social impact a donor can claim, equivalent to the percentage of the program they funded or otherwise supported. For example, if a donor provided 10% of a program's operating budget (or an equivalent monetary value of goods or service), then that donor can claim 10% of the program's social impact (i.e., 10% of a program that helps 100 get jobs, would equal a funded claim of 10 people getting jobs). This proportional claim is also known as a "contribution calculation," which is distinct from an "attribution calculation" which represents the net change in social impact that results from your donation (typically limited to capacity development investments).
  • Catalyzed Claim. Catalytic impacts are social-impact ripple effects that you can claim beyond those you directly funded. That is, if you are a “foundational” donor to a program – i.e., where the program might not have been implemented without your support – you can make a funded (or “contribution”) claim on its social impacts in proportion to how much of you funded (e.g., 50% funding = 50% funded social impact claim), and a catalyzed claim on the rest, since you enabled the whole program to be implemented. Further catalytic claims can be made if your foundational donation results in a new program, model, or resource that is then replicated in the future (i.e., the social impacts of those replications for a certain period, typically three to five years, even if though you are not funding those replications).
  • Cost per outcome. Cost per outcome is defined as the dollar amount (USD) required to achieve an individual outcome. By using a standard analysis as the basis of comparison, you can compare a program's effectiveness within your philanthropic portfolio and to other programs outside of your portfolio. For example, if a program costs $100,000 to run and helps 100 people get jobs, the cost per outcome would be $1,000. Investing in programs that catalyze additional social impacts can generate significantly lower cost per outcome. Learn about program vs. donor cost per outcome here.
  • Social ROI/SROI. Social return on investment (i.e., social ROI or SROI) is the amount of social value you generate as a result of your donation to a philanthropic program. For example, if a program costs $100,000 to run and helps 100 people get jobs, the social ROI of supporting that program would be 10 people attaining employment per $10,000 donated. Investing in programs that then catalyze additional social impacts can generate significantly higher SROI. Learn about program vs. donor SROI here.

  • Data Quality. All data reported through True Impact must be categorized by its source. Top-level categories include:
    • Direct measurement of program results, including testing, monitoring, or reporting by the beneficiaries or program implementers, using subjective or objective evaluation criteria.
    • Estimate based on data from other, similar programs; indirect tracking of outcomes (e.g., government data); or the program's past results.
    • Guess based on experience, anecdotal results, or logical assumptions.

The first two categories – direct measurement and estimate based on data – are considered high-quality (or evidence-based) data, providing some validation for the reporting organization’s assertions. Guess are considered low-quality data (better than nothing, but an area that should be improved.

  • Logic Model. A step-by-step illustration of how a nonprofit program creates value (also known as an "impact model" or a "theory of change"). In addition to efficiently explaining and quantifying how the program's services translate into social impact, the logic model helps distinguish between outputs, interim outcomes, and end outcomes (i.e., social impact), enabling both the donor and the nonprofit to focus on the proper metrics for evaluating success. The stages of our logic model include: 
    • Program Development. The number of improvements in infrastructure, operating practices, systems, or staff used to deliver a program’s services.
    • Reach. The number of people served by the program. (Output).
    • Learn. The number of people who as a result gain the skills, knowledge, motivation, or access to resources that will enable them to achieve success. (Interim Outcome)
    • Act. The number of people who then take action or change behavior in order to achieve success. (Interim Outcome)
    • Succeed. The number of people who gain income, health, housing, or otherwise improve their wellbeing by achieving the program's end goal. (Social Impact or end outcome)