Measuring socially engaged practice - Museums Association

Measuring socially engaged practice

A toolkit for museums

In 2013 we launched our Museums Change Lives campaign, which encouraged museums to improve their socially engaged practice, delivering a positive social impact with the communities in which they function.

Many museums have taken this on board and are undertaking workstreams which aim to positively impact audiences and communities. With increasing financial pressure however, museums need to understand the importance of socially engaged practice and how it relates to their purpose; measure the impact of their work; and articulate it effectively.

However, measuring social impact is not always easy. Impact can be far reaching and can continue to be felt months or even years after project completion. It can be challenging to find the right approach as social impact is not simple to quantify and therefore qualitative measures such as interviews and testimonies of participants are frequently used. These present their own challenges and require ethical consideration.

This toolkit is designed to assist museums to find the right approach for their participants and organisation. Each section can stand alone and includes examples from real organisations who have undertaken this type of work. This toolkit is not designed to evaluate your current levels of socially engaged practice or help you develop priorities for delivering socially engaged practice.

However, it will help you to design an approach to measure the social impact of a particular piece of short-term or project work. There is no one correct approach to measuring social impact and each organisation must find the best approach for each piece of work.