Measuring the Impacts of an Indigenous Cultural Heritage Initiative

Setting targets provides a goal to work towards. It might seem challenging to set targets for some strategies in the first year, but keep in mind that targets can be updated and adjusted to keep ICH teams and their communities on track to reaching their goals.

Effective ICH initiatives are guided by clear, specific plans and goals. It is important to be specific about what an ICH initiative is trying to achieve, which activities will help the ICH team reach their goals, and how the team will measure the effectiveness of their work.

This section describes the steps to take to measure and assess the progress and outcomes of an ICH initiative.

1. Reflect on the desired outcomes for each goal

ICH teams can think about each goal in their plan. How will they know if they have achieved a goal? What can they measure to tell whether they are making progress towards the goal?

2. Develop indicators to track progress towards each goal

Indicators are results that can be measured to track progress. Indicators for an ICH initiative could include:

  • The number of people enrolled in a program
  • The number of new jobs created through the initiative
  • The number of resources developed
  • The percentage of ICH sites documented

Indicators are often numerical, but they do not have to be. An indicator might be more personal, such as how a participant describes the impacts the initiative has made in their life. They can also include stories, quotes and observations that demonstrate the effects of a strategy. It is usually important to have some numerical indicators that can be compared over time.

3. Create a monitoring and evaluation plan

A monitoring and evaluation plan is a plan to measure indicators. This type of plan can help ICH teams  assess and demonstrate their successes, as well as learn from their experiences. A monitoring and evaluation plan can give a team information about whether they are achieving the goals set out in their ICH initiative plan once implementation has begun.

Monitoring and evaluation plans address questions like:

  • What tools will the ICH team use to measure an indicator?
  • Who will measure it?
  • When will they measure it?
  • What does the ICH team hope to achieve, and over what period of time?

            The table below provides a template for designing a monitoring and evaluation plan. Click here for an expanded version of this monitoring table.

GoalsIndicatorsWhat tools will we use to measure success?Who will measure it?When will we measure it?What do we hope to achieve, over what period of time?

4. Think about how to communicate the impacts of an ICH initiative

How will the ICH team share their results with the community and funders? This might be in a report, a presentation or a gathering. Some information may be private and may not be shared outside the community, so the ICH team will want to think about different communication formats for funders and community members.

5. Celebrate and reflect on the work being done

Hold up members of the community and honour their contributions. Create a dialogue on what is working well and what can be strengthened.

Tips for monitoring the success of an ICH initiative

  • Indigenize the way stories are held: Consider the values of the ancestors as they relate to sharing stories. ICH teams might want to consider creating ethics guidelines around recording and sharing stories. For example, using pseudonyms to keep storytellers’ names confidential.
  • Be aware of reporting requirements: Throughout the project activities, the ICH team should keep in mind reporting requirements associated with project funding, and consider how they can report on the impacts of the initiative.
  • Reflect on the success of the initiative: ICH teams can lift up their community by using a “strengths-based approach” when monitoring the initiative: focus on what is working well and build on that.
  • Confront challenges to ensure sustainability: Be realistic about what can be achieved and anticipate future challenges.
  • Consider the “future generations” of the initiative: Create a succession plan that provides opportunities for mentorship and learning so that new ICH leaders can take on the work. Consider how information collected through the initiative can be used for the future and how it should be stored.