Communicating Impact

Creative placemaking is a continuous process that can help your community reach its goals. You shouldn’t start this process without some idea of what you’re hoping to get out of it. When you know your community and understand needs, it’s easier to set goals and communicate impact. But how do we do this?

5 Steps to Achieving Success

  1. Get to Know Your Community
  2. Set Goals
  3. Do the Work
  4. Regroup and Evaluate Your Findings
  5. Tell Your Story

Step 1: Get to Know Your Community

step 1

Beyond building relationships, you will also need data to support your goal setting and benchmarking. A community scan will help you to get the data that you need to identify metrics. With those metrics, you can highlight your community’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

“A community scan is more than a bunch of tables and graphs for a community or geography.  It should provide insight into the needs and potential issues of a community, help identify the institutions and resources already existing in a community that may be more effectively employed, and identify gaps in services.  Preparing a community scan requires organizing and screening data to reveal a communities specific story.”

David Rose, Manager Data Demographics & Community Scan, Social Impact Advisors, Northern Trust (Information sourced from “To improve impact results, start with a community scan” by David Rose)

What do I need to have in my community scan?

  • Demographics
  • Social factors
  • Economic data
  • Housing data
  • Anchor institutions

Where do I go to find that data?

Step 2: Set Goals

step 2

During the workshop, Rose Scovel, AICP, Director of Capacity Building, spoke about goal setting and its importance to ultimately communicating impact. Here are some preliminary questions to consider:

  • What are you trying to achieve?
  • What is success?
  • Will this be a stretch to accomplish?
  • Is it too much of a stretch?
  • How does this advance a vision?
  • When do we want to achieve it?

Once you know the outcomes that you are trying to achieve and your capacity to achieve them, you can set some goals. One popular strategy for writing goals is the SMAART method. Rose walked the workshop participants through goal setting with this method step by step, and you can find her powerpoint here.

What are SMAART goals?

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Aggressive
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Timebound

Lots of organizations use this method, and here are two great articles that continue to expand on best practices for goal setting:

Step 3: Do the Work

step 3

You know your community, you’ve set your goals with outcomes in mind, and you are ready to do the work! An action plan can help you and your team stay on track and follow through to make sure that your goals and outcomes are achieved.

Core Elements of an Action Plan

  • Action
  • Responsible Party
  • Timeline
  • Performance Measure
  • Funding Source

As you start working, don’t forget to keep inventory of your successes. Take responsibility for collecting memorable quotes, videos, and photographs that will help you to tell your story in the moment and down the road. More tips and thoughts on continuous communication and storytelling in Step 5!

Step 4: Regroup and Evaluate Your Findings

step 4

You’ve done the work, so it’s time to regroup and evaluate. Take time to consider the following questions:

  • Where are we at?
  • How did we get here?
  • Was the community engaged the whole time?
  • Did we reach our goals?
  • Did we achieve the outcomes we wanted to see?
  • What did we learn?

After answering these questions, it’s time to think about the future and what comes next. Ask yourself and pose these questions to your team:

  • Are we still moving in the right direction?
  • How have we grown, and how can we keep growing?
  • Where would we like to be going next?

You can take a look at everything you’ve collected and determine those next steps. You’re already back to setting new goals and determining outcomes! Everything that you have learned and experienced is worth sharing. Uniting community experiences will amplify your story and make a case for your work. Whether or not you achieved your goals and outcomes, it’s important to develop a plan to share any and all successes as well as the lessons that you learned along the way. Move on to Step 5!

Step 5: Tell Your Story

Click here for detailed information on this step! 

step 5

More Resources

Handouts/Presentations from Rose Scovel, AICP, Director of Capacity Building, Prosperity Indiana: