Life Changes Trust Funding Evaluation Toolkit
This Funding Evaluation Toolkit is intended to provide a sound introduction to the Trust’s approach to evaluation, as well as access to a comprehensive set of relevant materials and resources.
The Life Changes Trust believes that evaluation is an essential part of all the initiatives we fund. Evaluation supports accountability and reporting on impact and an understanding of how this was achieved. It also enables learning and improvement by everyone. We think that understanding what doesn’t work is as important as understanding what does.
We welcome feedback to allow us to update and continuously improve this toolkit over time.
About This Toolkit
Who is the toolkit for?
The toolkit has been developed primarily as a resource for staff at the Life Changes Trust and for the prospective applicants and organisations that we fund. It is intended to help us to collectively undertake effective evaluation to assess progress in achieving our intended high-level outcomes and impact, as well as outcomes arising from specific funding initiatives and individual projects.
The toolkit is also available for use and comment by other interested parties. It is our hope that funders, policy-makers and practitioners that share our interests and values, will find the material useful.
Why a toolkit?
For the Life Changes Trust, like other funders, it is not always easy to tell which of the many applications we receive are most likely to make a positive and significant difference, and to understand what changes as a result of the work we fund. We know that it is only through appropriate evaluation that we will be able to understand the changes that have occurred and how these were achieved.
We also know that effective evaluation can be complex and challenging to do, and expectations and approaches to evaluation can vary greatly.
This guidance is therefore intended to demystify evaluation, provide sound principles and a solid foundation for undertaking self-evaluation activity and commissioning external evaluation. It aims to help users to navigate the wide range of evaluation ideas, resources and learning that are available with reference to the Trust evaluation approach and requirements.
What’s contained in the toolkit?
The material provided is organised around a number of main themes:
- What is evidence: Some basic ideas about what counts as evidence and how active use of evidence supports learning.
- Planning Activities and Outcomes: Ways to understand relevant theories of change for your activities, the signs of success, and how effective planning can act as a basis for ongoing self-evaluation and improvement.
- Evaluation Design: Important questions and practical considerations when embarking on evaluation, including who should be involved and in what ways.
- Collecting Information: Some issues and advice about selecting, combining and using these methods.
- Specific Methods: A guide to different types of methods to use when evaluating your activities.
- Analysing and Reporting Information: Guidance on ways to analyse qualitative and quantitative information and transform it into evidence that can be reported to others.
- Sharing the Learning: Ways to communicate your evidence as widely and as usefully as possible and, how to transform this new knowledge into early action and ongoing improvement.
How do I use the toolkit?
Given users differing levels of knowledge and experience of evaluation, this toolkit is intended to support flexible use where people can read and use the sections most relevant to them.
We hope that you find the material useful. Feedback and suggestions are warmly welcomed to help us update and improve the toolkit on an ongoing basis.
This toolkit is also supported by tailored evaluation guidance for each funding initiative and a programme of Trust Insight Briefings and Seminars.
If you have any queries, comments or suggestions, you can contact us in a number of ways:
T: 0141 212 9601
Glossary of Terms
We know that the terminology surrounding evaluation can often become confusing or off-putting. However, there are a few basic terms and concepts that it is important to be familiar with. Download them here.
You can download our full Funding Evaluation Toolkit as a PDF document for printing. It contains a full set of references and sources. Download the toolkit PDF here.