6 essential tips when thinking about charity monitoring and evaluation.

No one (or at least almost no one) goes into working or volunteering for a charity or community group to do evaluation, because they love data, or they like filling in forms. But the reality is that as soon as you start delivering a service or an activity you should be thinking about how you will understand the difference it is making and how successful it is.
The chances are that if you are receiving funding it is likely that whoever gave you the money will ask for a report. If you have trustees or a committee they need to know you are doing what you are supposed to be doing and will need to see the ‘proof’. Monitoring and evaluation should not just be a chore that you have to do to get funding, it should be something built into the very bones of your organisation or group.
This blog gives our 6 essential tips, but if you want to know more check out the CCVS training or that offered by other local and national support bodies.

1 - It has to be useful to you not just a chore imposed by others

If monitoring and evaluation is simply something you do because others have ‘forced’ you then it is only ever going to be a chore and you will have missed out on important learning.

Look for ways that allow you to meet the needs of lots of different stakeholders at the same time. But also make sure the process is working for the organisation. It is your opportunity to get information that helps tell your story and to promote your successes. How much better to say that we helped groups gain £10 million in income rather than that 50 people came to our fundraising training.

2 - You have to think about this at the start of the project

If you get to the end of a project and only then think about the evaluation and monitoring it will be much harder or impossible to do.

You need to start thinking about this aspect of the project as you are planning the project. Start thinking about what you are trying to change, how you might measure this and how you will capture the data you need. If the monitoring and evaluation takes place throughout the project then there are opportunities to change how you do things to improve what you offer. Also by making sure you are taking the time to collect data as you go it will give you more to work with when you have to report.

There is also a chance that collecting feedback and data as you go will give you useful quotes etc to help tell your story, and also help you to raise additional funding by helping to answer those questions about need, about clients informing your work as well as about the difference you make. Never under estimate the value of a good quote from someone who has used your services, and more importantly never feel shy about using it at every possible opportunity.

3 - It does not have to be complicated, but there is some jargon

There are some common words that you will need to get your head around so that you can be sure you are doing what will be most useful and informative for you and other stakeholders.

You will need to get your head around the inputs and outputs, the outcomes and impacts, qualitative and quantitative. A good place to start is the NCVO website or the NPC website or sign up to one of our training sessions.

Once you have mastered some of the language, what you are monitoring and how you evaluate it does not have to be complicated. It is important that what you do reflects the size of the project you are doing, and that it enables you to answer the questions you need answering and show the difference you are making. For a small project it may simply be about collecting numbers of attendees and where they are from, but if you can add some feedback in the form of quotes or produce a case study this will help add depth to your report.

4 - There are lots of ways to collect data - be creative

Sometimes it will not be possible to measure what you want to know about. Sometimes there will not be an obvious way to look at the difference you make. This does not mean you can’t evaluate your work and monitor things.

You may have to think about proxy indicators that allow you to show your difference with your time scale and budget. If you work with young people you can’t tell if your project has kept them out of prison, but you may be able to get feedback about how positive they are about their life following your activity.

Also think about how you can be creative in getting feedback in a way that is suitable for your audience. This could involve using technology or art but it does not always have to be a happy sheet or an interview. There are loads of resources on this as well as how to be more creative about how you use data.

NPC https://www.thinknpc.org/resource-hub/the-cycle-of-good-impact-practice-creative-methods/ and from Catalyst https://www.thecatalyst.org.uk/resource-articles/using-data-better-charity#

5 - How you present your findings is important

If your data is not understandable, then there is no point having it. If it is not presented in an engaging way no one will read it.

Loads of people have written about this and there are example blogs from the US and from Just Giving.

You have to find ways to engage people and to tell a compelling story. At the same time, you may want to think about what platforms you will be sharing on and ensure that any reports or slides etc are able to work for you across different platforms and with different audiences.

6 - Learn from the feedback don't just ignore it.

It may seem obvious but how many reports are produced and then simply put on a shelf and ignored.

If you have gone to the effort of doing the monitoring and evaluation make sure you use it. This is about shouting about the difference you make. It is about looking at ways that you can improve and build on the work you are doing. It is about using what you find to demonstrate need if you want to look for extra or continuation funding. The chances are that once you have the data then it will be useful in producing your annual report and review. It will be useful to trustees to enable them to see that the charity is doing what it should. Think about how you can make the information you have work as hard as possible for you.

This is part of telling your story and all charities should be looking at how they do that. Tips on this from CAF and Charity Digital. Also keep an eye out for the CCVS training on telling stories.

Quote from Melissa Steginus "Review is essential to evaluation, which is essential to progress."

Evaluation has to be linked to everything you do. Done well

  • you will be able to find solutions that will address the needs of many different stakeholders.
  • it will tell your story and prove your worth.
  • you will clearly see what was good, not so good and what was excellent and you will be able to deliver better and better projects.

The NPC website has some brilliant resources https://www.thinknpc.org/starting-to-measure-your-impact/ as does NCVO https://www.ncvo.org.uk/help-and-guidance/strategy-and-impact/impact-evaluation/#/  

Tips for supervising volunteers

By Chris Trevorrow. August 2022.

Our recent workshop on supervision skills for those managing volunteers, shared tips on how best to manage the supervision. 

Prepare

  • What has happened since the last meeting with the volunteer?
  • Are there any current issues involving the volunteer? If you need to give critical feedback do your homework first.
  • Is there any news you wish to share with them?
  • Have you set aside enough time and space?  Don’t take calls or allow interruptions.  Decide how long the supervision should be and arrange the meeting with the volunteer letting them know how long to allow.  Be prepared to manage the time.
  • Make the setting friendly and informal? Don’t use the desk as a barrier, maybe offer a drink, check the volunteer is comfortable, and check if they have any time constraints.

For first time supervision: explain to the volunteer in advance what the meeting is for:

  • For the volunteer to:
  • give their feedback
  • highlight anything they might need to help them with their role
  • For the supervisor to:
  • give feedback on the volunteers performance in the role, recognising and building on strengths and exploring any areas for improvement
  • highlight any organisational issues that might impact on the volunteer
  • Together:
    • Agree any actions to be taken

Start with the volunteer  ASK & LISTEN

  • What has gone well since the last supervision?
  • What have been the challenges/difficulties?
  • What might you do differently to overcome these?
  • What do we need to do differently to support you?
  • Are there any ideas or questions that you would like to raise about your role or the organisation as a whole?

If you have queries on this, or anything else relating to running a voluntary group, get in touch with us on enquiries@cambridgecvs.org.uk

Zoom in on zoom session – Volunteering for All

By Ellie Lee, Volunteering Development Worker and Amy, CCVS Volunteer. November 2021

Recently, we, (Amy and Ellie) organised the first online session dedicated to supporting people with disabilities to find out about volunteering.

In preparation we produced some stylish slides to help us remember what we wanted to say and to remind us to introduce ourselves. (It would not have been the first time I, Ellie, failed to introduce myself and just started to talk! 😊)

During the session we explained our roles, Ellie’s as the Volunteering Development worker at CCVS and Amy’s as an incredible CCVS volunteer who has been with the project since it was born. Ellie talked about how she supports clients, inviting them to a 1:1 interview, to help them untangle doubts about volunteering and encourage them to explore different opportunities.

Amy did a great job of explaining how important volunteering is to her and talked about all the roles she is currently undertaking. She volunteers in an EACH (East Anglia Children’s Hospice) charity shop in Cambridge, she assists at two Tai Chi classes, she helps organise the Funky Club (a night club for people with disabilities), and of course, she is a valuable CCVS volunteer and helps Ellie organise events such as the volunteer Walk and Talk and online sessions. Amy also produces articles and media content. Keep an eye out for Amy’s future blogs for more details of her volunteer roles.

We met some very enthusiastic people at our first online session, some of whom are already volunteering, and some who want to begin to get involved with local community projects.

There are many different options for volunteering and attendees shared experiences, and inspiring reasons for getting involved. We discussed the many benefits of volunteering, how rewarding it can be, and how it can improve confidence and skills. People often think that very specific and professional skills are required, but we also discussed how everyone has skills to offer, even though they may not be aware of them. Lived experience, empathy and enthusiasm make a good foundation.

We encouraged everyone to think about how to start their volunteer journey and had a conversation about breaking it down into manageable steps. By the end of the session, we were able to point one participant in the direction of one of our lovely local charities, and by the end of the day a meeting had already been arranged.

We’d like to thank everyone who joined us and for their enthusiasm and interaction.

We were both very happy with the first trial session, and we are looking forward to many more!

Do get in touch if you would like to join us in future.

Ellie and Amy

Keeping communities safe during winter – free webinar

Invitation from The Cabinet Office & The UK Health Security Agency

UK Health Security Agency logo

Keeping communities safe during winter webinar

Thursday 21st October 2021, 3.00 pm – 4.00 pm

Community leaders have played a vital role during the pandemic. As the colder months begin to set in, we will be holding a series of Keeping Communities Safe During Winter webinars on Zoom to support community and faith leaders, voluntary and community groups with their ongoing engagement and communications. The next one takes place on Thursday 21st  October 2021 at 3.00 pm and, as well as providing an overview of the most up-to-date Government guidance, it will focus on engaging young people with vaccinations. Attending the Zoom webinar will give you an opportunity to:

  1. Get the latest information from the government officials and hear from health officials on COVID-19 vaccine efficacy
  2. ask questions and discuss ideas for effective engagement, particularly with young people
  3. inform the Government about challenges, barriers and experiences in communities

We encourage all community leaders to attend. Please forward this invitation to other leaders in your community.

Click here to register 

There will be ample opportunity to ask questions. To submit a question in advance or if you have any questions about the webinar, contact Obaayaa Asantewaa or Pascoe Sawyers at community.resources@dhsc.gov.uk.

Additionally, If you require British Sign Language (BSL) interpretation, please email community.resources@dhsc.gov.uk by Friday 15th October so that this can be provided.

Online fundraising in rural communities: learn and share

Join us on 10th Dec 6pm to 7.30pm to look at alternatives to grant funding particularly for rural groups and communities.

This event will include a presentation by Naomh Campbell (Co-op member pioneer coordinator for the Eastern Region) who, with her team is looking to work with more local causes offering support and advise.  We will also have interviews from two successful community fundraisers with one running  a crowdfunding campaign and another putting their community fundraising events online. 

We will touch on social investment and community share schemes to assess the level of interest for a future more in depth session on these topics.

To book your place http://www.cambridgecvs.org.uk/training-events/view/375