What do we mean by social impact?

The phrase social impact has been used with increasing frequency in the museum sector in recent years.

Some prefer terms such as social value or socially engaged practice.

In simple terms, when we talk about this work in museums we are referring to museums influencing positive changes and fostering rich and meaningful relationships between staff, volunteers and participants, enhancing the lives of everyone involved.

There are many different ways in which museums can have and are having a positive impact.

The Museums Change Lives campaign breaks this down into several areas of change:

  • Creating better places to live or work
  • Enhancing health and wellbeing
  • Inspiring engagement, debate and reflection

These categories can be useful in helping to define what type of social impact a work stream can have.

Museums have become accustomed to reporting on economic and even environmental impact. Social impact can and should be articulated in the same manner to provide a wider picture of the work that museums do.

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