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Five dimensions of impact for actionable result

Discover how sopact's integrated Impact Cloud empowers investors to assess and communicate their impact across the five dimensions of impact
Written by
Unmesh Sheth
Published on
January 28, 2020

The five dimensions of impact are a framework for assessing the effects of actions on people and the planet, guiding impactful decision-making.

Demonstrate impact with five dimensions of impact.

Impact investing is gaining popularity. Businesses and investors are interested in making money while benefiting society and the environment.

Understanding the Five Dimensions of Impact is critical for both parties. This article will explain these aspects and offer examples of how businesses and investors use them. We'll also explain how enterprises can use these dimensions to raise impact investment capital effectively.

Five Dimensions of Impact

The Impact Management Project (IMP) has five dimensions to evaluate an organization's actions: intended, unintended, positive, and negative impacts. Assessing the level of performance for each effect across these dimensions is crucial to understanding the holistic impact created. Investors can assess the impact of their investments by using data from both external and internal sources. This evaluation process helps us understand the impact and make informed decisions.

Impact Dimensions

The term "impact dimension" defines the various aspects by which we can evaluate the impacts of an organization's actions. The Impact Management Project (IMP) states that these dimensions aid in comprehending an organization's overall impact. This impact can be intentional or unintentional, and it can be positive or negative. The five dimensions of impact, as outlined by the IMP, are:

Fig: Five dimensions of impact

1. What

This dimension focuses on the specific outcomes the enterprise seeks to achieve. It involves understanding the change the organization aims to create, such as improving access to education, promoting renewable energy, or increasing financial inclusion.

2. Who

This dimension emphasizes the target population or stakeholders benefitting from the enterprise's efforts. Understanding who will be affected and to what extent is essential for enterprises to effectively tailor their strategies and allocate resources.

3. How Much

This dimension refers to the impact's scale, depth, and duration. It helps organizations track the impact, extent, and duration of benefits on people.

4. Contribution

This dimension considers how the enterprise's efforts lead to the observed impact. It helps organizations understand the difference they make compared to what would have happened in their absence.

5. Risk

The final dimension focuses on the potential risks and uncertainties associated with achieving the intended impact. This includes external factors and assumptions that could influence the success of the enterprise's efforts.

Impact Dimensions: Enteprise Centric

Now, let's see how a business can use the Five Dimensions of Impact to understand, assess, and share its impact.

1. Define the Problem

A company that wants to help rural communities get clean water must first understand the problem they want to solve. This could mean studying how many people don't have clean water, why water is scarce, and possible solutions.

2. Identify the Indicators

The company must select appropriate measures to track its effects. These measures include counting new clean water sources, people with improved access, and reduced waterborne illnesses.

3. Collect Raw Data

Next, the enterprise needs to gather raw data on these indicators. This may involve surveying community members, collecting water samples, and tracking the installation of new water sources.

4. Analyze the Data

Once the enterprise collects the data, it must analyze it to understand its impact. This may involve comparing data before and after the intervention, analyzing trends, and identifying correlations.

5. Assess the Impact

After analyzing the data, the enterprise should assess its impact across the Five Dimensions. For example:

  • What: The enterprise has successfully improved access to clean water for 1,000 people in rural communities.
  • Who: The primary beneficiaries are low-income families and children who have historically experienced higher rates of waterborne diseases.
  • How Much:  The impact is big: we reduced waterborne diseases by 70% and increased access to clean water by 50%. The impact is also substantial, as we expect the clean water sources to last at least 20 years.
  • Contribution: How enterprise is contributing efforts to improve access to clean water, surpassing government and other organizations' capabilities.
  • Risk: Potential risks include changes in government regulations, natural disasters, or community resistance to new water sources. The enterprise must monitor these risks and adapt its strategies accordingly.

6. Data Sources

Data sources for this case may include surveys, government records, water tests, and interviews with leaders and beneficiaries.

Five Dimensions of Impact_Impact Management

Fig: Five Dimensions of Impact

Building a Flexible Impact Framework

Organizations must be flexible and choose the right standards to have a big effect. These standards include SDG, IRIS, GRI, and Custom Metrics.

The Impact Management Project (IMP) is vital in defining Portfolio Impact Categories, Assessment, and comprehensive Portfolio Analyzing tools. Asset owners and managers can analyze their data in detail by mapping it and using the five IMP dimensions. By embracing this approach, organizations can overcome the struggle to understand and communicate their impact.

The SoPact Impact Cloud Solution

SoPact Impact Cloud offers a simplified and integrated solution for social impact management. Organizations can simplify metric selection using a theory of change (TOC) and the Impact Management Project (IMP). These tools can help align with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), IRIS, and GRI.

The platform allows for creating custom metrics based on goals and targets. This feature helps develop impact frameworks, monitor progress, and create detailed reports. Through individuality and flexibility, the SoPact Impact Cloud empowers organizations to effectively measure, manage, and communicate their impact.

Uniting the Impact Ecosystem

In the pursuit of positive impact, collaboration is critical. The impact ecosystem comprises three essential layers: Asset Owners, Asset Managers, and Assets. By fostering collaboration and communication among these stakeholders, organizations can achieve greater synergy and enhance the overall impact of their initiatives.

This teamwork acknowledges that the impact management process is continuous. Additionally, it acknowledges that asset owners have multiple opportunities to participate. This helps us understand how investments affect society and the environment. It takes a comprehensive and inclusive approach to managing their impact.

Impact Framework: Investor-Centric

Investors can use the Five Dimensions of Impact to evaluate and compare investments for clean water access. This framework allows them to evaluate the impact of their investments in a comprehensive manner. By considering social, environmental, and economic dimensions, investors can make informed decisions that align with their goals. This approach enables them to prioritize investments that positively impact clean water access and contribute to sustainable development.

The Five Dimensions of Impact are useful for investors who want to make a difference in this important area. This could involve examining the impact of each business on various areas. It includes assessing the size and significance of their impact compared to other actions. Additionally, it involves evaluating the potential risks associated with their activities.

Investors can use this system to track their investments, ensuring their money has a positive social and environmental impact.

Raising Impact Investment Capital

Companies can attract impact investors by showing they can create positive results using the Five Dimensions of Impact. Enterprises can build a compelling investment case by clearly defining their problem, identifying relevant indicators, collecting and analyzing data, and assessing their impact across the dimensions.

This approach helps businesses attract investors who want to support organizations with a proven record of creating change. The Five Dimensions of Impact assist businesses and investors in discussing and managing the impact. This makes it simpler for them to collaborate and establish stronger partnerships.

Integrating Investor's Impact Matrix

Investors should comprehend the effect of their assets. They should then modify their portfolio to align with their goals and limitations, aiming for a greater impact. This involves determining the portfolio's composition, such as the investments and industries included. It also involves establishing the criteria for evaluating the impact of the portfolio.

A €220 billion pension fund aims to minimize impact and avoid harm. Meanwhile, a family foundation manages a smaller $10M portfolio and focuses on discovering innovative solutions. Investors seeking higher impact will benefit from reviewing impact metrics before making investment decisions.

Stakeholders Impact Matrix

Fig: Impact Matrix


Understanding and applying the Five Dimensions of Impact is crucial for enterprises and investors in the impact investing space. Organizations can improve their impact by using this framework, leading to better strategies and partnerships. As impact investing evolves, the Five Dimensions of Impact will remain a valuable tool for enterprises and investors.


What are the Five Dimensions of Impact?

The Impact Management Project (IMP) created the Five Dimensions of Impact. They are a framework that helps organizations assess and share their impact. They include What, Who, How Much, Contribution, and Risk.

How can enterprises apply the Five Dimensions of Impact?

Companies can use the Five Dimensions of Impact. This can be done by defining the problem they want to solve.

Additionally, they can find relevant indicators. Furthermore, they can analyze data and evaluate their impact. Finally, they can use data sources to back up their findings.

How can investors use the Five Dimensions of Impact?

Investors can use the Five Dimensions of Impact to assess and compare potential investments and monitor their ongoing performance.

How can enterprises raise impact investment capital using the Five Dimensions of Impact?

Companies can attract impact investment by showing they can create positive results in the Five Dimensions of Impact. This approach attracts investors who want to support organizations with a proven record of creating change.

The Five Dimensions of Impact are crucial in impact investing. They assist in measuring, managing, and communicating the impact of enterprises and investments. This helps organizations and investors develop effective strategies, allocate resources more efficiently, and build stronger partnerships to pursue positive social and environmental outcomes.

Organizations must do more than just report; they should understand and communicate the impact they have. Asset owners and others require proof of impact, so a data-driven approach that combines frameworks and standards is essential.

This article explores impact measurement and management, focusing on its effect on people and the planet. Organizations can unlock their potential and generate meaningful, sustainable impact by aligning with these dimensions and implementing a comprehensive impact framework.

Further Reading

Impact Management

Are you curious about what other setting up actionable impact management frameworks? Get a free copy of this e-book with four impact measurement experts.

How to ask open ended questions

Learn how to ask open-ended questions effectively with our insightful guide. An effective way to learn stakeholder voice.
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