When you apply to the Life Changes Trust you will be asked to give outline details of your plans for self-evaluation with an estimate of costs. If the activity is funded, you will then be asked to develop a full costed plan.
The Life Changes Trust will provide a suggested Self-Evaluation Plan Template for each of the funding initiatives that it manages, together with a pack of tailored evaluation resources and support.
We are happy to speak to applicants during the process, as we aim to be an engaged and supportive funder. We will also, where appropriate, bring together funded projects to discuss evaluation plans together.
Planning evaluations before you begin to gather information is very important. This helps to establish clear boundaries for the self-evaluation process, and agree on what needs to be measured, how, and by whom.
The Trust will provide a standard format for you to use to lay out your evaluation plan. In addition, a variety of templates and examples for such plans are readily available. Evaluation Support Scotland usefully provides a simple, generic Evaluation Planning Template that enables you to set outindicatorsappropriately for each outcome and then work out how you are going to gather the information you need.
Your self-evaluation plan can include a variety of aspects that will support the planning and co-ordination of activity. This is likely to include:
- Establishing Your Theory of Change
- Developing a Logic Model
- Setting Outcomes
- Selecting Useful Indicators
- Selecting Appropriate Methods
- Identifying Your Participants
- Considering Ethical Issues
- Budgeting for Evaluation
- Sharing the Learning
Think carefully about your timescale. Life often gets in the way of even our best plans, so you should always allow for more time than you think you will need. Don’t forget to think about holidays and other things that might be going on in your participant’s lives as you plan your timeline. For example, if you know your organisation has a particularly busy week in which your participants will be actively involved, it might not be the best time to ask them to sit for interviews.
In constructing your self-evaluation plan you will also need to consider issues of proportionality of the proposed evaluation activity in relation to the size and complexity of your project and activities. See the section on Proportionate Evaluation for more details.
The Big Lottery Fund asks some basic questions in assessing outline evaluation plans, which might be useful to consider:
- Does the evaluation have a clear aim?
- What questions will the evaluation answer?
- Is the scale of the evaluation proportionate to the size of the project?
- Who will be involved in managing and carrying out the evaluation?
- How will the findings from the evaluation be used?
- The Better Evaluation Rainbow toolkit has useful resources to help you start to manage and define your evaluation work.
- Big Lottery Fund (2010) Understanding self-evaluation: A guide for projects supported by the Big Lottery Fund.
- The Charities Evaluation Service at NCVO provides guidance for planning a self-evaluation
- Evaluation Support Scotland Evaluation Planning Template
- 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.
- 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.