How to tell the story of your impact

9 Dec 2022 Leeann Kelly    Last updated: 16 Dec 2022

The voluntary, community and social enterprise sector exists to make a difference in the lives of others, but increasingly we find ourselves under pressure to be able to effectively demonstrate the impact of our work. 


Often organisations record their outputs or numbers, but people are more dynamic than numbers. Telling stories can help better explain the difference you make in people’s lives.

NICVA co-hosted a workshop with Smith and Kent Consulting in December 2022 to explore ‘How to tell the story of your impact’.  Janice Smith and Brenda Kent shared practical tools and guidance on how to use qualitative evidence to tell the story of your impact in a compelling and robust way. We've summarised the key takeaways below:

When does qualitative data work best?

  • On its own or to complement quantitative data
  • To find out about feelings or sentiments
  • To find out about the how and the why
  • To reveal if new things are happening
  • To learn what people want next

Participants were introduced to the three different methods to collect qualitative data. 

  • Asking using:- Interviews-; Focus groups and Nominal group techniques
  • Observing using:- Participating observation and Pure observation
  • Reflecting using:- Journaling and Mapping

Once qualitative data is collected, it can be a challenge to analyse the findings.  Janice and Brenda explained how looking for patterns and themes and how to code data against set goals.  The key factor with any data analysis is that people are clear on what goals and outcomes they are working towards – only then can they determine if their data is indicating that they are going in the right direction.

Using a mix of qualitative data collection techniques will give a unique insight into the impact of work of your project or organisation.  The next challenge often is how to tell the story of your impact in a way that will be accessible to others. One way to do this, is to use the ‘Story of Change’ technique.  This is a way to document your story of impact in a short way that can capture the attention of others in five simple steps.

Story Mountain- Story of Change technique

Step 1: The Beginning. Whose story is it? Set the scene by describing who they are, where they come from and so on.

Step 2: The Situation. What challenges did they face? How did this make them feel or affect how they lived their life?

Step 3: The Solution. What did you do to help them? Describe the services or activities the person used or took part in.

Step 4: The Result. The difference or changes that activity made for the person. This could be in terms of what they did, can do, have or feel. Were there knock-on effects for their family or community?

Step 5: The Future. What you learned from this story? And what you would like funders, other groups or policymakers to learn from it?


If you missed this session, you can view the PowerPoint attached that was used on the day or watch the short video below:


Feedback from this session included:

I will apply the techniques to our current projects to ensure qualitative data has as much impact as quantitative data.  Excellent mix of advice, tools and examples, lots of take-aways.

It has helped me think about how we can avoid survey fatigue by collecting participant feedback in different ways

Great examples of how to gather emotional evidence.  Thank you for organising this, it was excellent!

In response to demand, we will we be organising more training in telling the story of your impact in 2023.  If you have any further questions regarding impact story telling you can contact Leeann Kelly at: [email protected] or our impact storyteller facilitators directly, Janice, [email protected], and Brenda, [email protected].'s picture
by Leeann Kelly

Impact Practice Manager

[email protected]

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