These days, museums across the UK are providing more and more services for their visitors and the communities that surround them. Long gone are the times when museums were simply repositories for interesting artefacts and historical objects because museums today often act as thriving community hubs with different activities and expanded services in place for the public. These additional activities are varied, but include workshops for school children, offering work experience placements for young people and delivering art based projects to help older people socialise. The depth and range of what museums now offer is impressive, plus most museums are extremely aware of their impact on the local and wider environment.
Understanding and evidencing your social and environmental impact and the ‘added value’ that your organisation provides adds credibility to what you do, so AIM has now produced a practical advocacy toolkit that will be useful for independent museums, for those with local authority funding, university museums or indeed for anyone who needs to be able to advocate better for their museum. This new AIM Advocacy Toolkit, supported by Arts Council England and developed by DC Research can be used by all museums across the UK and comprises an impact evaluation/assessment framework which has been tested using evidence from a small number of AIM member museums.
“AIM is delighted to be publishing the Advocacy Impact Toolkit as a practical way of helping all museums make the case for their social and environmental contribution. It is the much needed accompaniment to AIM’s Economic Impact Toolkit, which is already used by museums across the UK to give robust evidence of the positive economic contribution that museums make,” said Tamalie Newbery, Executive Director of AIM. “As public spending is tightened, it is vital that museums can speak with credibility about all the ways that they contribute to their communities and make a difference to people’s lives and the new toolkit enables them to do this with confidence.”
This toolkit has been designed to help museums fill the gap between the activities and inputs generated by museums and to help them assess their social and environmental impacts. It includes methods of choosing your outcomes, ways of assessing your own selected outcomes and examples of best practice from independent museums across the UK to help you identify your own contributions. There is also a blank template available for download to help you compile your own documentation.
So how else can evidencing your social and environmental impacts help you? Increasingly, funding bodies and project partners such as the Heritage Lottery Fund are requiring strong evidence of how your services are used, and being transparent about how you reduce your environmental impact can support future grant applications. In addition, proving your positive impacts and strong advocacy can act as the basis for marketing campaigns and case studies to help attract new visitors to your museum. This new AIM advocacy toolkit also contains useful information about how you can estimate the value of volunteer time for ‘in kind’ funding purposes.
“DC Research are delighted to have developed the AIM Advocacy Toolkit, building on the success of the Economic Impact Toolkit we previously developed for AIM which has proved to be very useful to the independent museum sector,” said Jonathan Durnin, Director, DC Research. “The AIM Advocacy Toolkit is designed to help museums make convincing connections between their activities, and the contribution these activities make to the wider social and environmental outcomes that are important to their partners and funders. It provides the tools and the evidence to demonstrate how museums are helping their partners deliver their social and environmental priorities”.
You can find out more about this new toolkit and download the associated documents here: Evidencing Social and Environmental Impacts of Museums: AIM Advocacy Toolkit