Youth Canada

Impacting Your World

28-08-2008 by Kelly Kung

Impacting Your World

To many people, the word “impact” has many connotations. Even in daily life, “impact” refers to many different ideas and thoughts. In computing, it may refer to a Norwegian counter strike source player; in science, an impact force may be a high force produced over a short period of time; likewise, there are other references for “impact” in the film and music industries and even in literature. “Impact” within the youth population may be a reminder of an encouraging entrepreneurship group!

Despite the various interpretations, most of us have agreed upon one important definition: impact is the long-term change an action is set to create. Whether the significant changes are involved with the tangible or intangible, an impact is a vision of a preferred future that highlights the importance of the initial action.

How can you distinguish a regular change from an impact? You must first analyze how the change has evolved and its outcomes and outputs. For a change to be categorized as an impact, it must follow the “Impact Chain”, a regulation by which Canada’s Engineers Without Borders abide by: Inputs  Activities  Outputs  Outcomes  Impact.

Inputs include any of the materials and resources that are used or will be used by the activities. The big question that brings about the inputs is: What is the purpose of the action? Following inputs are the activities – what is it that you are doing? Activities are what you actually do to create the targeted change. An example of an activity may be setting up an information booth at a fair introducing the public to the importance of donating blood.

Outputs are results that you see immediately. These are the short-term changes that allow you to know how the desired change is progressing. An output of the previous example may be a rise in the number of inquiries regarding blood donations, and possibly a rise in the number of blood donors as well. Outputs are direct results of your activities.

The true changes that result from your actions are outcomes. An outcome may be that over 50% of the Canadian population now hold concerns about the need for blood in the country. Outcomes display the steadiness of the progress and positive evidence that the actions are indeed triggering long-term change. Behavioural changes often make up a big part of outcomes.

Finally we have the last and most important part of the chain – the impact. The impact is the goal of your activities as well as a change in the system. An impact lasts.

The inputs, the activities, and the outputs may be grouped into what is called “organizational results”. These refer to the processes that aim to change the target audience’s behaviours. Outputs may also fall under the “developmental results” along with the outcomes and impacts: actual changes that are aimed to happen. The changes may come from individuals, communities, systems, and organizations. The more effective the change, the greater the impact.

If at first you do not see an impact, start analyzing what you’ve done out of the Impact Chain, plan to improve in specified areas, do the activities, and evaluate again. The Impact Chain is important for making impacts, and whether big or small, these impacts are guaranteed to change your own lives. The Impact Chain can be guideline to planning for anything – for personal growth, for school, for business, or even for a global project! An impact is not simply a change – it is a long-term change that creates a lasting effect or impression. Impact, as mentioned in the beginning, is a vision of a desired future that underlines why the action is of great importance.

You can be the impact!

KELLY KUNG was born in Hong Kong but has lived in Vancouver, British Columbia for most of her life. She graduated from Burnaby South Secondary School in 2008 and continued on to obtain her Bachelor of Science degree at the University of British Columbia. Kelly is also an alumnus of the program Shad Valley International at Carleton University in Ottawa.

[Courtesy to Engineers Without Borders of Canada at Carleton University]

Image courtesy of photographer "tellytom" at