Advocacy: creating an impact report

Brunel University London Archives


Brunel University London Archives holds the archives of the university and its predecessor colleges Maria Grey College, Shoreditch College, the West London Institute of Higher Education, and those of the British and Foreign Schools Society (BFSS) from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the present day. The archive is part of the Brunel University Library.

The archive collection of the BFSS is one of the most important collections in the world on 19th-century elementary education and teacher training. It had been on deposit with Brunel University since 2004 but was donated to the University in 2013. A condition of the donation was that a report about the collection be created each year.

What did they do?

An annual report has been created by the archive since 2014. However, the archivist attended some training in measuring impact in 2020 and, following this, decided to rebrand it as an ‘impact report’. The annual reports provide an overview of the activities undertaken on the collection. However, the impact report attempts to go beyond this and articulate the impact of the collection. For example, it includes a strong case study for the ‘Unlocking the Secrets of Britain’s Slave Past’ project, which demonstrates how the archive can support academic research and public engagement activities.

A digital version of the report is made available online alongside a small print run of hard-copy versions. It is shared by email with the BFSS, its members, and internal stakeholders in the university. The archivist also uses social media to share the report and attends the BFSS annual general meeting (AGM). Read the BFSS annual reports on the Brunel University London website.

What advocacy benefits were there?

  • The report is shared with senior managers and academics within the university – it is a good way to raise awareness of the collection and its impact.
  • The report helps build supporters and interest for the collection from the BFSS and its members.
  • The creation of the impact report has meant archives staff are now thinking more about what data they collect and how they can provide evidence of their impact to the university. They recognise they still have work to do to develop this and continue to prioritise advocacy.


  • Design – the archive used the Media Service department at the university to undertake design work on the report. This gives it a professional feel.
  • Share – think carefully about who you are going to share the report with and how. There is no point in creating the report if no one is going to read it!
  • Relevance – think about what type of impact your stakeholders are interested in and capture this in the report. For example, before the COVID-19 pandemic, the archive had a strong student volunteering programme. The reports emphasised the impact of this programme since student development is important to the university.
  • Impact – try to go beyond outlining activities or outputs and record impact. Qualitative data such as case studies, stories, and quotes can be used alongside the quantitative data.
  • Prioritise – creating the report does take up staff time and has to be prioritised over other activities.