In this toolkit, ‘impact’ is used to refer to ‘any change made to a situation or context.’ Assessing impact therefore means documenting what has changed; but also documenting all things that have contributed to achieving this change. Assessing impact also includes capturing intended and unintended impacts–both positive and negative. Impact doesn’t just mean all the good things.
Note that impact might happen only partially, or even completely independent, of your Video for Change initiative and that proving this is often difficult. As such practitioners in the impact field tend to emphasise contribution over attribution.
As the Fledgling Fund note:
“The vast majority of social issue documentaries and their engagement campaigns are entering into a community (however small or large) of activists, leaders, organisations and coalitions that have laid groundwork long before the films and campaigns were conceived and they will be there for many years continuing to build the movement. This critical work must be acknowledged – just another reason an element of ‘story’ is so important in this evaluation work – so that this relationship can be explained.”
In this toolkit we aim to help you capture and analyse more immediate short-term impacts as well as longer-term impacts. We want to do this in a way that helps to understand how they might or might not be contributing to creating the right environment or context needed for longer-term impact and broader social change.
These immediate impacts could include informing new audiences about an issue through screenings, building the capacities of social movements through training, or mobilising target audiences to take action, like attending a rally or signing a petition. Longer-term impacts, such as changing social attitudes or changing public policy or law require multiple efforts over time by many different actors.
This means that impact needs to be discussed and defined in each context since there is no simple ‘winning’ Video for Change formula for success. During the process of writing this toolkit we organized a webinar on Video for Change and Impact together with New Tactics. A similar conclusion, that there is no ‘winning’ formula, can be drawn from the many interesting conversations that occurred during this webinar.
We believe measuring impact from Video for Change initiatives requires a holistic approach that examines impacts at each and every stage of the video-making process. This is needed to fully understand the connections between how we do things and what results.