Narratives of Impact: Digital Storytelling as a Change-Making Tool

Digital storytelling has become a popular method for curating communities and has been thriving as a tool for social transformation and social justice. Since its beginnings over 20 years ago, projects have sprung up across the globe, where authentic voice is found in the narration of lived experiences (Copeland, S., & De Moor, A. 2018).

Recently digital storytelling is gaining a new wave of attention as a tool for impact and change measurement, but the knowledge about it is disparate and largely unaccounted for. Therefore, the aim of the Narratives of Impact (NOI) is a shift in perception about storytelling not only being a powerful tool for creating social change, but also a tool for measuring the impact and change.

  • To reach the aim, NOI has the following objectives:
    – better understand how digital stories are used to create impact at local, national and pan-European levels;
    – investigate how stories can be used by activist groups to create communities of change;
    – design and oversee the implementation of stakeholder engagement strategy;
    – explore how lived experience can be used to create better connections between social services and its users;
    – research and analyse the ways how storytelling can measure change and impact;

To meet these objectives, a partnership of 5 organisations with digital storytelling expertise who work in VET and civic society settings has been formed. This partnership spans 5 countries and includes – People’s Voice Media (UK), CRN (Germany), INTRAS (Spain), COSV (Italy) and SNDE (Poland). These organisations will pool their resources, use their existing expertise, undertake research and stakeholder activities and deliver dissemination activities in order to develop the following results:

Result 1: A report on existing methodologies and practices that using digital storytelling to create and/or measure change (IO1)
Result 2: A toolkit and associated resources for working with digital stories to create and measure impact (IO2)
Result 3: Video guides to support individuals and organisations to use stories to create and measure impact (IO3)
Result 4: Train existing informal education trainers and facilitators in techniques to use storytelling in their sectors as a change-making tool and impact measurement apparatus
Result 5: Create a network of story-based impact organisations in VET and other fields to create a connected peer support community Result 6: Policy recommendations for using narratives to create and measure social change

We foresee three main groups of participants:
1. The project team
2. The staff members of participating organisations
3. Broader circle of stakeholders that will be included through multiplier events and partner network

The project activities are organised based on key milestones, work packages, intellectual outputs, staff trainings and transnational partnership meetings. The work between the milestones will be carried out as part of a work package structure. Each work package will have a designated lead partner who will coordinate the activities in that workflow but ALL PARTNERS will actively contribute to each WP.

The primary target groups are educators working in the VET fields, researchers and research organisations, professionals working in evaluation and impact fields, civic educators and community development organisations/professionals (this group has outreach to secondary target groups). The secondary target groups are people from groups who are generally excluded from civic participation due to barriers so as education level, cultural and language differences, health and socio-economic status. These secondary beneficiaries include groups such as people experiencing mental health illness, migrant communities, adults with learning and/or physical disabilities and people disengaged from society.

The expected impact of project activities on partner organisations, the project team and primary target groups is: new knowledge in the scope of digital storytelling as a change making tool (IO1); digital storytelling as impact assessment tool; strengthened European partnerships; a toolkit (IO2) and video guides (IO3) that will enrich their educational practices; The impact on secondary target groups will be in the longer term and/or the widening impact realms. For example, through educating the primary target groups (see above) in methods for using digital stories to create and measure impact, this learning will then indirectly benefit these secondary beneficiaries as they will be passed onto them via the primary target groups.

Sustainability is a key element of the project and this will not only be achieved through the training and IOs, but also via the creation of a network of organisations using storytelling to effect and measure change and policy recommendations for this arena.