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2 minutes to read Posted on Tuesday July 12, 2022

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

portrait of Nicole McNeilly

Nicole McNeilly

Impact Advisor , Europeana Foundation

Our impact word of the year: embedding

For a decade, Europeana has been working to standardise an approach that we - and others - could adopt to better understand the impact of digital cultural heritage. We look at the progress we have made towards this goal over the last year, reflecting on the importance of embedding impact, continuous evaluation and a new Phase of the Impact Playbook.

A drawing of a chair and a speech bubble
Detail from Landscape with a Chair
Galanda, Mikuláš
Landscape with a Chair

Embedding impact in the Europeana Initiative 

Our impact word of the last 12 months has been ‘embedding’ - embedding impact design, measurement, narration and evaluation approaches to different areas of work in the Europeana Foundation and across the Initiative. 

For example, we now evaluate all Zoom events and webinars by using the Zoom post-event survey functionality, which allows us to monitor satisfaction rates across our capacity building activities and to iteratively collect feedback and implement improvements. We use impact to help us manage and develop Europeana’s Frameworks and we are thinking about impact when designing a holistic approach to products which support data and metadata quality. 

We already see the results of our work to highlight the value of an impact-focussed approach to project design and delivery. For example, the Europeana XX project has followed all four stages of the Europeana Impact Playbook and used the impact findings to shape a final presentation to the European Commission. Two Generic Service projects, EnrichEuropeana+ and Europeana Translate, have both had impact workshops at an early stage and are moving on to data collection. The Jewish History Tours Generic Services project is using an impact lens to consider legacy and to feed into the sustainability plan due later this year. 

Sharing knowledge about our impact as a convenor of digital cultural heritage professionals

As well as sharing how we are embedding impact, we have to think about what we are learning through it. Since 2019, we have been collecting data about the impact of our annual conferences and how they contribute to building capacity for digital transformation, and this year is no exception. At Europeana 2022 we will conduct our fourth impact assessment of our annual event, giving us four years of data with which we can compare the impact of convening the Europeana Network Association. 

Similarly, we conducted a satisfaction and impact survey of Europeana Network Association (ENA) members in 2020 and 2021. We published the Impact Assessment of the ENA in 2021 late last year and we are currently analysing the data from 2022. We can already see increased satisfaction with the Network and similar numbers of Network members suggest that the Network is important for their daily work. As with our annual conferences, monitoring the satisfaction of ENA members and the impact of membership helps us to improve outcomes for Network members.

Developing the Europeana Impact Framework

In June 2022 we published the final phase of the iterative four-phase Europeana Impact Playbook! Phase four, dedicated to the evaluation of your impact assessment approach, was steered by a group of external advisors and has had feedback from across the Europeana. Phase four sets out three ways you can evaluate your impact assessment processes, from a light touch debrief to a survey of your colleagues to a Team-Based Inquiry cycle. 

In Phase four, we also build on ‘embedding’, looking at what this means. We introduce our Theory of Change and set out five principles to guide the Europeana Impact Framework: 

  1. Stakeholder-focussed

  2. Participatory and inclusive

  3. Reflective and critical

  4. Efficient and effective

  5. Useful and proactive

These principles will shape our revision of Phase two later this year (get in touch if you’d like to help out!) and it has guided the ongoing development of the Europeana Standardised Question Bank

They also inform the Impact Lite Training and Community Building Task Force. With over 20 active participants and observers, the Task Force meets monthly to guide the design of an impact lite methodology - namely, a streamlined approach to the Impact Playbook phases - alongside capacity building resources to skill you up quickly in the key components of each phase. 

Nurturing an Impact Community

In 2022, the Europeana Impact Community aspires to stimulate reflective, considerate and purposeful discussions around the topic of impact assessment and to empower the digital cultural heritage sector with the skills and resources they need to apply an impact approach. 

Having had a busy year in 2020/2021 with the launch of our Impact webinars and a collaboration with the Research Community, 2021/2022 has mostly been focused on the Impact Lite Task Force. We have published our 2022 work plan and plan to nurture connections between Community members through networking events later in 2022. We also welcomed new members to our Steering Group and the Community continues to grow. 

If you’re not already a member, we warmly invite you to join the Impact Community via the Europeana Network Association. You can also join our LinkedIn group

Find out more

For those that are interested, this is the third ‘impact review’ we have completed - read about what we learned in 2019/2022 and in 2020/2021

You can also download the Impact Playbook, including the newly published Phase four. If you have any feedback on the Playbook, or any aspect of our impact approach, don’t hesitate to get in touch