In this post, we highlight the findings of the Video for Change Impact Research. The Video for Change Impact Research Summary Report is available for download.

In 2012 and 2013, the video4change Network began investigating the opportunities and needs for impact evaluation in the Video for Change field. The video4change network was formed in June 2012 in Indonesia in a meeting co-hosted by WITNESS and EngageMedia to gather key video organisations to share lessons and experiences on the use of video to affect social change.

This first stage of the impact research was led by video4change Network members, MIT Center for Civic Media and Engagemedia, who worked with Dr. Tanya Notley to carry out:

  • a preliminary literature review to assess what had been published about Video for Change and the measurement of impact;
  • interviews with eight video4change member organisations and two funding bodies to better understand the monitoring and evaluation experiences and needs of those working in this field.

The core research team was guided by an advisory team compromised of members of the video4change network.

This first stage of our Video for Change Impact project is now complete and we have now released the from our scoping study (summarised below).

The video4change Network members are now examining funding options to build upon this work by creating a framework and toolkit that will help Video for Change practitioners and organisations design for and evaluate social impact.

Finding 1: There are multiple approaches to ‘doing’ Video for Change and each has its own priorities and values

By examining the different approaches to Video for Change we were able to see that these approaches include a range of motivations, values and practices and these often vary across time and place. The different approaches taken to use video for social change include: participatory video and community video, social documentary video and film for change, video advocacy, communication for development and communication for change (where video is used), citizen journalism video, witnessing video (including the collection of evidence), change-focused video memes and mash-ups, and youth media (where video is used). It’s important to note that although we described these video approaches as unique in our literature review, we also recognised from our interviews with practitioners that they are not fixed concepts and nor are they mutually exclusive. At the same time, identifying these different approaches was an important outcome of this research since it will help guide the further development of appropriate models for creating and measuring social impact.

Finding 2: ‘Impact Evaluation’ means very different things to different social change actors

In attempting to analyze how different approaches to Video for Change prioritize, define and measure “impact” we found very few cases of shared definitions, let alone shared approaches. It was very clear from our interviews that all of the Video for Change organizations we interviewed are looking for an approach, framework and sometimes also indicators, technologies or tools to help them both design for impact and measure it. Impact in this instance very often referred to outputs (we trained x women and x men; we produced x videos) as well as a combination of outcomes (x trainees were able to produce xx videos; x people watched the video; we received x national media coverage; we had 1000 people comment online) as well as longer-term impacts (the government agreed to change x policy; the perpetrators of x were arrested; there was a significant increase in x). Perhaps the greatest challenge for this project is that because Video for Change includes so many different models and approaches to change, this complicates efforts to find common ground for impact evaluation framework. The researchers have recommended that it is worth deliberating more about what is common among the different approaches to doing Video for Change. In the report, the researchers begin this deliberation by mapping out the key ways that video can be used to create social change.

Finding 3: There is no pre-existing impact evaluation theory, model or framework that clearly fits this project’s needs

As part of our literature review, we examined dozens of Monitoring and Evaluation and Impact Evaluation theories, methodologies, frameworks and approaches. Many were complicated and obtuse; others were highly specific and did not seem relevant to Video for Change.  We did find a range of resources, listed in the report, that recommend are now being used to inform the next stage of this project.

Finding 4: There is a desire to share knowledge and experiences of creating impact via Video for Change initiatives

Most of the interviewees we spoke to from the video4change Network told us that they wanted to learn about or learn from the experiences of other Video for Change practitioners. In many cases we were surprised that even within the video4change Network there was a lack of knowledge about the approaches/models/projects of other organizations included or in-depth knowledge about the guides/toolkits they have created. The next stage of this project will need to investigate appropriate methods for knowledge-sharing.

Download the full report: Video for Change Impact Research Summary Report.

While the first stage of the impact research has been concluded, a second phase is being started. We will carry out the lessons learnt and results of the first stage into expanding the research beyond the video4change network membership.

The second stage of the research aims to:

  • Improve the quality of Video for Change work and enhance collaboration in the field by developing shared understandings of how video can create impact;
  • Raise the profile of Video for Change and promote it as a change-making practice;
  • Develop shared evaluation and impact assessment methodologies, resulting in a toolkit that enables video makers and campaigners to effectively measure and understand the impact of their work;
  • Build the Video for Change field by improving feedback systems and knowledge sharing via an online space that allows the Video for Change community to share tactics, strategies and lessons learned.

Stage Two is made up of three key components:

  1. Impact research
  2. Community building and knowledge sharing convened through the website, online events, discussions, and presentations.
  3. A toolkit that will provide a flexible framework to support video4change initiatives to design for and measure impact.

We invite Video for Change practitioners from around the world to share their experiences and resources and to stay up-to-date with and involved in our research by subscribing to the updates.


* The 1st stage was funded by HIVOS

* The 2nd stage of the research is being funded by the Oak Foundation