By Sara Federlein
Last month, The New York Times “reviewed” the still-in-the-works Participant Media Index designed to measure the impact and engagement of social issue documentaries. Anyone in the nonprofit world knows that “impact” and “engagement” are the buzzwords du jour.
But more than a passing fad, impact evaluation is serious business — one that many of us in the social change realm grapple with every day. This has not always been the case in the 18 years I’ve worked in the sector. Funders have increasingly driven the trend, asking grantees to not just monitor our progress, but also develop innovative ways to quantify that progress and share our learnings more broadly. In this way the nonprofit world is catching up with the fields of medicine, psychology and education — all of which have embraced “evidence-based practice” over the past two decades.