Why does this dimension matter?
We consider whether the effect is likely much better or much worse than what is likely to occur anyway, based on whether the effect:
Leads to more or less important positive or negative outcomes. and/or.
Delivers a more or less significant effect, and/or
Occurs for people (or the planet) who are more or less well-served than those currently experiencing it.
This dimension matters because, even if we assess an effect to be material and positive, we will only be confident that we are helping to improve the world if we think what we are doing is better (across any one of the dimensions of what, how much or who) than the effect that would likely occur otherwise. It also forces us to recognise that we might make things worse.
This dimension is called contribution, rather than additionality or attribution, because it is often an estimation of whether we think what we are doing will help to improve the world, not a scientific study of whether we did. Running a control trial of what would otherwise have happened is often not possible - ethically or financially - although it is very helpful to do so when we can. But just because we can’t run a control trial in every situation, it does not mean that we shouldn’t estimate, based on data about what is likely to occur anyway (across the (what), (who) and (how much) dimensions) whether what we are doing will improve the world, or of course make it worse. Factoring this consideration into our decisions means that we are likely to make better choices. For commercial businesses, this sort of benchmarking is typically relevant for understanding market opportunity and competitive advantage and is therefore collected anyway as part of general management.