Evaluation is central to all of the Trust’s work. As an engaged funder, the Trust wants to be involved in discussions about evaluation at an early stage to satisfy itself that the approach will contribute evidence to measuring our objectives. We will support projects by providing specific funding evaluation guidance and other resources including training and this toolkit. In this we have a clear focus on the involvement of beneficiaries and other relevant parties to make sure the evaluation is meaningful and answers the right questions.
Including the relevant stakeholders
If you want to collect relevant information and make the most of your efforts, it is important to think about how you will use evaluation evidence right from the outset and who you will share it with internally and externally.
Identify interested parties, includingstakeholderswith an interest in or influence on the evaluation at the outset. Find out both what they want to know and how they might use the information. This will certainly help to build a wider sense of ownership, clarify the purpose of the evaluation, and fine-tune your evaluation questions.
The Life Changes Trust has created a blank template based on the above stakeholder map, available for download here.
Asking the right questions
The Trust will provide clear guidance about what core data it expects will be collected and what outcomes should be measured. This will not be all of the information you will want to collect and you may have other requirements for funders or other stakeholders.
It is important to have a clear vision about the reasons for the evaluation before coming up with specific evaluation questions.
As you think about the big questions that your evaluation activity should answer, you may find it helpful to break questions down further into their component parts.
It may also be necessary to prioritise your ‘wish list’ of questions, separating out the ‘need to know’ questions from those that are just ‘nice to know’. This may require some negotiation but it is better to stay focused and answer a manageable set of questions well.
Once you have started prioritising evaluation questions, you can receive feedback about the evaluation questions from your funders, partners, beneficiaries and other interested parties.
- For further information see the University of Wisconsin Guide to Planning a Programme Evaluation. Their worksheet (MS word document) helps you focus on who should be involved at the outset and how.
- The Better Evaluation Rainbow toolkit has useful resources to help you start to manage and define your evaluation work.
- The Scottish Government guide to Designing and Evaluating Behaviour Change Interventions is a useful 5 step approach to evaluation with a focus on developing your logic model.
- The Charities Evaluation Service at NCVO provides guidance for planning a self-evaluation