top of page

If you understand the impact you are making you can identify funding opportunities for the type of impact you are already making or understand who is most affected by your programs and activities


However, impact can often be the hardest and most complicated idea to measure.  How do you know what someone felt when they saw your painting?  How can you tell if the child who saw your play went home and told their parents? How do you find out the way you make people feel?


The truth is sometimes you can't. 

But don't let that deter you because you are not alone.


Borrow the Stories of the People Around You

Measurement is more than numbers.  Sometimes, the best information to have is a story.  You should be collecting stories and conversations, the same way you collect ticket sales and income.  Engaging in meaningful conversations with your stakeholders will give you a picture of how you make a difference

Let the Experts do the Research

You can use research that is more broad than your audience or even your environment to understand the impact you are making.  If you cite them, you can even quote directly from these studies in grant and sponsorship applications.

Borrow the Language of Social Science

As artists, we all believe strongly in "Art for Art's Sake."  However, in today's world, sometimes we have to find the words to explain what that means in terms non-artists understand. 

Please reload


Borrow the Stories of the People Around You

Good ways to collect stories:


  •  Have lunch with each of your board members and ask them why they chose to be on your board.

  •  Send out an email to your email list asking what their favorite experience of your art is.

  •  Talk to your volunteers about what value they get from giving their time to your organization.


Pro Tip:  Start a Word document, where you keep the stories and refer back to them in the future.  

Let the Experts do the Research

These arts organizations offer lists of their research for free.

Pro Tip:  In Order to keep from being overwhelmed, chose one link and read one paper you feel is relevant to you.  come back when you need a different perspective.  


Borrow the Language of Social Science

There are many ways to borrow from social science, but the following three examples are great places to start.

*Examples are not available on mobile*

Develop a Logic Model

"The program logic model is defined as a picture of how your organization does its work – the theory and
assumptions underlying the program."

 - Kellogg Foundation

Eight Word Mission Statement

"All we want is this:

A verb, a target population, and an outcome that implies something to measure—and we want in eight words or less."

 - Stanford Social Innovation Review

AFTA:  Aesthetic Perspectives

"Eleven artistic attributes that address the potency of creative expression to embody and motivate change."

-Americans for the Arts

Social Science
bottom of page