STEP 1: your story of why?

There are many different ways to see and understand the same issue. Therefore it’s important you feel you’ve taken enough time to research and understand what’s going on. You want to be as sure as possible that your video does what it needs to.

Your answer to the question why you want to start a Video for Change initiative should cover: what is going on, why it is going on, and who is involved. Having clear answers to these questions will enable you to start a conversation about what needs to be done to change the situation. 

If you already know a lot about the issue you want to tackle, it’s still worthwhile to get your thoughts and feelings on paper. What’s important is that you and the people involved in your initiative are clear on the complex dynamics that have led to the situation you now hope to change.

When thinking about potential for the social impact of your video project, the Fledgling Fund suggests you to ask the following questions:

  • Does it add to or advance our understanding of the issue? 
  • Is it a unique perspective? 
  • Is this project likely to make a difference? 
  • Is it likely to change attitudes and perhaps behaviour? 
  • Will something be lost if a project doesn’t move forward? 
  • Is the issue socially ripe for change? 
  • Can this project move the issue forward?

(Barrett, Diana and Sheila Leddy. “Assessing Creative Media’s Social Impact”. The Fledgling Fund. 2008)


Methods and Activities

If you’re at the research and design stage the following methods and activities could be useful. It’s not necessary to use all these methods: pick, choose and adapt those that make sense for you, or match the resources and skills you have available.


Method: review previous research and projects.

Spend time examining reports, books, articles, and other videos to compile a brief about what you know about the situation, including key events, facts and statistics. 

Make a summary document and presentation for your participant communities, key stakeholders and project team to ensure everyone is familiar with what has already been documented. The summary documents describe the key circumstances and dynamics that are contributing to the situation you wish to change. Be sure to highlight any gaps in the research or questions that still remain.


Method: community or participant driven discovery.

This method offers a platform for participant contributions. Their discoveries can help your process, as the people and communities involved will be better represented. You may use your existing networks and contacts to invite people to contribute information or knowledge, and you may also make use of the media, including community media.

Worksheet PDF


Method: interview people or facilitate small discussions. 

It’s possible no-one has written or made a video about your issue, or marginalised voices and perspectives have been ignored in what has been previously produced. Collect original research data to understand what’s going on. You can talk to people informally at this stage and take the opportunity to build trust with those who’re able to inform your research. 

You can also email people questions to answer, or put out a public call and ask people to record their answers on mobile video and send it back to you. If it makes sense for your initiative, you could make the research more open by putting it online where you start a dialogue with people affected by an issue (or vox pop people on the street).  


Method: carry out original data analysis. 

You can bring in experts or volunteers to help you analyse, map or visualise data in ways that can help you identify new narratives, patterns and frames. This will also allow you to ask questions that may not yet have been asked or answered. You might also organise a hackathon where volunteer programmers and other experts come together to collect, analyse or visualise data, or organise a ‘data expedition’ where a team of experts work either online or offline to help you think about new ways of addressing problems using technology, data and evidence. Find out more on the School of Data website included in the Resources and Tech section.


Method: collectively identify key facts and knowledge gaps. 

Cut up key facts, data (including photographs or video stills) or quotes that you think illustrate what’s most important to your Video for Change initiative. Put these key facts, data and quotes on the table for your project team and key participants to explore and discuss. Facilitate a discussion that allows them to ask questions about the information. The objective is to find knowledge gaps that may lead to new insights. Rank the data according to importance, either individually or collectively. Discuss what is most important to your initiative and make a list of additional research needs to address gaps.


Method: ask key stakeholders or participant communities what they want to know about the situation. 

Often the people most affected by an issue are best placed to determine what questions your research needs to ask. To ask the relevant people what they want to know about the issue you are exploring, have a project question board that you keep adding to in your project space. Make sure it’s accessible for stakeholders and community members. It can be located online and/or offline and you can allow these questions to drive the research process.


Method: create an issue briefing video. 

A short video can help people to quickly understand your goals. It may explain how you see an issue and how you’ve explored and analysed it. The video can be used to generate new discussions about what is going on and what might be done about it. It makes for an inclusive and open way to begin a project, without assuming you need to know everything and have all the solutions.


STEP 2: design a theory of change.

A theory of change can be helpful to explain to yourself and your stakeholders why and how your initiative expects to have an impact and help towards creating positive social change.

A theory of change communicates the impacts you must achieve to be successful, and how you’ll achieve them. 

In order to create a good theory of change, you need to address the following questions: 

  • What is the social change you want to contribute to? 
  • What has to happen for this social change to become possible? 
  • How will you best contribute to this social change with your initiative?
  • How do you maximise your impact using the resources you have?


Methods and Activities

The following methods and activities build on the methods in Step 1. They help you identify preconditions for change – what’s needed to change for you to reach your ultimate goal. Brainstorm ideas for how these preconditions might be met to help you decide the types of change you seek. Taken together they will allow you to develop your own theory of change. 


Method: make a clear statement of intent about the change you are seeking. 

Write down the ultimate change you are working towards. This can be a short statement such as ‘Stop all forms of discrimination against domestic migrant workers in Malaysia’ or ‘Stop climate change,’ or it can be a more detailed explanation of what the problem is you want to tackle. Discuss the statement with your team until you all feel satisfied that it represents the social change you are working toward. 

Share this statement with diverse people including those who are or may be in opposition, or with those who simply don’t care about the change you are seeking. Use this as an opportunity to listen (not convert). This can be as simple as reading out someone your goal and asking ‘this is the goal of a project I’m doing some research on; I wanted to get your reaction. What do you think of this goal?’ Document these responses and share them with your team.


Method: create your theory of change document. 

In the template provided, the top of the pyramid is the ultimate objective (the broader social change) your Video for Change initiative is working toward. In the second level, it sets out the preconditions for achieving this change. The third level defines the objectives of the video(s), and it identifies which of the preconditions for change these videos are addressing.

Use the template to make your own theory of change pyramid.

  1. Identify in a clear sentence or two the social change you are ultimately working toward, or seeking to contribute to.
  2. Consider/discuss the changes that need to happen in order for this social change to occur. What kind of environment is needed before this ultimate social change can happen? You may need to investigate and carry out consultations to complete this.
  3. Now work from the list of types of social change, and identify for each precondition, what type of change it falls under. Try to identify which type of change(s) your project will most likely achieve. For example, if you are well connected to mainstream press or policy makers, you may have an ability to impact policy change.
  4. Once you decide on the type of change you are seeking and the change preconditions you are working toward, you could do a popcorn brainstorm session to come up with lots of ideas about how you will achieve this change. (A ‘popcorn brainstorm’ is done in a group. Preferably you include community members and key stakeholders, but at the very least you should include as many people who will be involved in your initiative as possible. The aim of the session is to allow a free flow of ideas which, like popcorn, come fast one after another. Spend five-ten minutes quickly sharing ideas. Have people write their ideas on stickies when they shout them out. It’s important the facilitator stresses there are absolutely no bad ideas and encourages people to think outside the box.)
  5. After you have a long list of ideas for your video(s) or initiative, you cluster ideas together using your sticky notes on the wall. Tell each person they have three votes to give, which they do by making a mark on the sticky. Tell everyone participating to think from different perspectives: from the point of view of the people you want to reach, take specific action, or be involved in what you’re doing. Discuss and refine this list until you have agreement on the ways your initiative will best contribute to change.
  6. Your list can now be seen as a first set of ideas. You may wish to follow up with a focus group discussion, or get feedback from other stakeholders.
  7. Finally add your video plans into the ‘theory of change’ logic document, using the template provided.


STEP 3: know your participants, audiences and targets.

Once you have considered how your Video for Change initiative will create change you have a much clearer idea of who is involved in the issue. People involved include those:

  • responsible for rights abuses 
  • with power to maintain or change the situation 
  • affected by the issue 
  • who might work with you  
  • who might work against you.

This last step is about identifying how different groups of people fit into the picture so you can better assess how you’ll relate or connect with them and create a design that takes this into account.

The following methods and activities build on the methods in Step 1 and 2.


Method: immersion and observation.

By immersing yourself within groups of people or communities, you’re better able to observe and learn from their practices. Without spending considerable time with a community you run the risk of making assumptions about people’s priorities, needs and rituals. If you’re already a community member, this method can help you reflect on how your own community functions.

Worksheet PDF


Method: spectrum of stakeholders: identifying real and potential allies and opponents.

In developing your strategy it’s useful to identify the positions of institutions, organisations, groups and networks that already work on, or influence this issue. 

To do this begin with your statement from Step 1 where you defined the change you want to contribute to. Now rephrase this into a position statement. For example: ‘We believe we should have balanced gender representation in our Parliament.’ Now draw a half-circle, divided into wedges. Place those institutions, organisations, groups and networks who most support your position on the left side of the spectrum and those who oppose you the most on the right.


A five-wedge diagram would include the following:

  1. Active allies: already leading/taking actions to support your position.
  2. Allies: have an interest in supporting you.
  3. Neutral parties: may not be involved in supporting your position but could be.
  4. Opponents: may oppose your position.
  5. Active opponents: are likely to actively interfere with your actions.

The result is a spectrum of stakeholders that you can use to help design your Video for Change initiative.


Method: mapping influence.

After you have all stakeholders placed in a spectrum, you now need to consider where opponents and allies (existing or potential) are situated in terms of their influence. You want to identify actors who have the most influence on your issue or your initiative. 

Use the below diagram to put stakeholders on an axis showing their influence and level of support. As with the above activity, you may need to do more research in order to do this effectively.  


Now use both your spectrum of stakeholders overview and the influence mapping to decide:

  1. The actors you want to work with directly. 
  2. The actors who you want to complement, connect or be aligned with.
  3. The actors (adversaries) for which you’ll need to have a strategic response, but will most likely not work with.

In your design you can group these actors and potentially identify them as your target audience(s).


Method: segmenting your audience.

Beyond identifying key stakeholder networks, organisations, groups and institutions, it’s also important to find a way to better understand and know your target audience(s). 

Your target audience may include those people directly capable of making the change you’d like to see, but it will also include groups of people you want to engage with during your initiative. For this activity you should spend time considering the best way to segment your target audience/s, meaning you will divide your audience/s into separate parts in order to get a better overview of each group. 

It’s important to work out how dividing your target audience will produce similar groups in a way that makes sense to your project. To do this you need to think about what makes people within your target audience/s the same and what makes them different.

The most common ways to segment audiences are based on: 

  • who they are
  • where they live
  • what they do   
  • how they feel and think. 

By identifying these things, you can divide your target audience/s into segments. Although audience segmentation isn’t perfect it can help you to more effectively design communication and outreach efforts because it allows you to understand how different groups are likely to respond.


STEP 4: design your Video for Change initiative.

Combine the previous three steps into one project design document which you can use for finding support, informing audiences, gathering more participants, building a team, etc.

Your project design should be concise and clear on:

  • Your story of why you want to do this. Why is it necessary/urgent to do so?
  • What your theory of change is.
  • Who your (potential) participants are. 
  • Which audiences your initiative wants to address and how.

Before settling on the final design of your initiative, we suggest you to take a look at these 10 Questions to answer before filming. Your design should have the answer to almost all of these questions – it’s a great way to check and see if you’re project is going in the right direction.