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Background Work

What is an impact goal?

A specific ambition to measure and focus Mozilla Foundation's internet health programs over the next few years.

Using the model we started in 2018 with the ‘your data and you’ theme, we will point 50 - 60% of fellows, campaigns and other program resources at this goal.

A strong impact goal has four key qualities. It’s audacious, tackling the big issues of the day at a high level. It’s concrete, describing specific, tangible change. It’s targeted, describing the key players involved. And it’s inspirational, motivating us to roll up our sleeves and make it happen. In short: Mozilla’s impact goal should be ambitious but attainable, and have the potential to send positive ripples across millions of users’ online lives.


As we look at the next few years of Mozilla’s work, it’s time to begin mapping our course forward. The last three years have been about creating a solid foundation for our work - the internet health frame, clear program offerings, and an effective planning/execution process.

Looking forward, it’s critical that we use this strong foundation to focus on a specific set of outcomes that we can design and measure our progress against. Internet health remains a critical articulation of the broad change we’re seeking in the world. Now, it’s critical we also answer the question, “What concrete improvements to the health of the internet do we want to make over the next 3-5 years?”

Since we launched the “your data & you” theme in 2018, there’s been positive feedback about the value of a theme and the broad topic area of data, as well as a request for us to continue to invest in this area beyond 2018. At the same time, staff, external partners and funders have urged us to be more specific about what this investment focus on data means for our work and our intended outcomes.

Three reasons we want an impact goal:

  • Focus and measure the impact of our internet health programs.
  • Galvanize allies by giving us something concrete to work on together.
  • Shift narrative from ‘fear’ to ‘ambition’ -- and, eventually, ‘winning’.

Goal of this project

The Impact project is designed to answer the question, “What concrete improvements to the health of the internet do we want to make over the next 3-5 years?” through a transparent, participatory process involving staff and external experts/partners. The specific goals of this project include:

  • Crafting a compelling, specific vision of an alternative, positive future that builds on the current “your data and you” theme
  • Defining a set of specific goals to achieve that impact through clear milestones we can design and measure against
  • Developing a set of messages for the related target audience/s that we can begin to test and further refine
  • Mapping our theory of change against this vision so each existing program is set up to drive impact

We will go after these goals in an open and collaborative manner, engaging our allies, partners and supporters as we define the issues we’ll focus on over the coming years -- and, of course looking, for ways to work together as we put this focus into action.

The outcomes of this work, including discussions with the board, will be used as part of our 2019+ strategic plan, with the expectation ~60% of resources towards a common goal developed through this process and maintain ~40% work on a long tail of internet health issues.


Ambition: importance and scale

  • Will this work have a real and meaningful impact on internet health?
  • Does it have the potential for a ‘domino effect’ that unlocks secondary impacts?
  • Will this impact be felt widely, either in terms of total number of people impacted or parts of the world that benefit?

Winability: likelihood of success

  • Can we identify specific areas where we are likely to succeed?
  • What are the dependencies to success? How many of these dependencies might we control or have influence over?
  • Would limited success still be valuable and if so, how?

Momentum: some of our allies are already pursuing this goal

  • Are others already making progress on some aspect of this problem?
  • Who else needs to win for us to win? Are they already working on this?
  • Are there things Mozilla could do to increase momentum or help unlock success in this area?

Resonance: current and potential resonance with public

  • Is this an issue the public is already aware of? If so, who and in what geography?
  • Are we addressing core concerns or values people have about life online?
  • Is this issue likely to have broad public appeal?

Fit: leverages Mozilla’s brand, expertise and programs

  • Does this work advance the principles of the Mozilla Manifesto?
  • Can Mozilla bring a unique perspective, expertise or resources to this issue?
  • Could existing staff, fellows and initiatives contribute significantly?
  • Do we know where or how to leverage expertise around this work in places where we don’t have it already?
  • Is this work likely to attract new allies, volunteers and community?

Possible Impact Goals

From July - November 2018 we worked with MoFo staff, fellows and partners to generate over a dozen options for impact goals, which were then narrowed down to four. The impact goal we chose is:

  • Better machine decision making: we understand when machines are making decisions for us. We work alongside them and have a way to fix mistakes.

The three additional impact goal options we explored included:

  • Online ad economy: what we click on, look at or buy online isn’t used to influence or manipulate our behaviour without our consent.
  • Respect online: women or gender minorities are not afraid when they share opinions, ideas, or content online.
  • Digital bodies: we all control the digital copies of our face, voice and DNA.

You can see a more detailed brief that runs each of these options against the criteria here.

Selected impact goal: Better Machine Decision Making

Based on extensive engagement with staff, allies, experts and the board, it has been decided that ‘better machine decision making’ is the area to focus on. This goal was chosen because of the belief that it can:

  • Leverage the ‘agenda setting’ influence by asking tough questions about AI and adding nuance and specificity to the public debate.
  • Focus work in an area of further impact, leveraging the work started across all program areas over the past three years.
  • Increase the number and quality of collaborations across Mozilla and the internet health movement by helping define specific areas to work with others to have impact.
  • Help reach more people through messages and calls to action by increasing the clarity, specificity and relevance of the messages.
  • Offer clear milestones and outputs to measure and report out on progress against the intended impact along the way.
  • Phase two of the impact project is designed to drive towards more specificity around the work and outcomes we’ll take on in pursuit of the goal of better machine decision making.