Good evaluation practice is about knowing the value of what you do. It should be a key part of any project or service your organisation delivers. It will help you to:
- See what works best for the people you seek to help and identify any areas for improvement
- Understand and celebrate the impact you are making
- Demonstrate your impact internally and to others in the sector and funders
Ultimately this will help you to deliver better outcomes for your beneficiaries.
The Evaluation Cycle
- Set outcomes and indicators – what are the differences that you want to make (outcomes) and how will you measure whether these have happened (indicators)?
- Gather evidence –gather data which is appropriate and proportionate to your project or organisation
- Analyse and report – make sense of your data and present it in a meaningful way for your audience(s)
- Learn from and act on your findings – use findings to shape current or future service delivery
Our top tips for evaluation
- Make sure any evidence you gather is useful (and used!) - There’s no point in spending time collecting data which is just going to sit on a shelf getting dusty. Set yourself some clear questions at the start and find ways of gathering evidence that will help you to answer them.
- Make sure your evaluation plan is proportionate –Evaluation doesn’t need to be expensive or time-consuming. The amount you gather should be proportionate to the size of your project/service or organisation.
- Speak to other individuals or organisations – speaking to others about some of the successes or challenges they have faced may help you to develop an appropriate plan for your own work.
- Be flexible – including regular review points into your evaluation plan. This will help you to check whether the evidence you are collecting is useful and is helping you to answer the questions you’ve set yourself. You can also use these points to adapt your project/service if the evidence is highlighting something that should be changed.
Inspiring Impact also has a useful ‘Code of Good Impact Practice’ which you can download here
Evaluation Support Scotland works with third sector organisations so that they can measure and report on their impact. Its website contains a number of free evaluation tools and it also runs various events and workshops to help organisations better understand and evidence their impact.
Inspiring Impact is a UK-wide programme which helps third sector organisations to understand what to measure and how to measure it. Its website has a number of free resources to help you evaluate your work and it also has a self-assessment tool so that you can see which areas of embedding impact measurement your organisation could improve on.