Frequently Asked Questions
What can ESS do for third sector organisations?
What can ESS do for funders?
ESS works with third sector organisations and funders to help them measure and report on the difference they make and improve their services.
Who can attend ESS workshops?
ESS workshops are specifically designed for third sector organisations. In exceptional circumstances and if we would not be denying a place to a third sector organisation, we may allow staff from local authorities to attend but only if the person is running a front line project. Local authority staff who fund the third sector or provide support to third sector organisations in accessing and managing funds can attend our workshops for funders.
Our workshops are not for consultants.
Can I get free-of-charge support from ESS?
ESS has a number of evaluation support accounts with funders which allow some funded organisations to get free support. Otherwise unfortunately we don't have the resources to meet with you for free. We can sometimes give some focussed support by phone or email and our evaluation support guides and other resources can help you get started. Here are a few:
- ESS support guide 1.1: Clarify your aims outcomes and activities
- ESS support guide 2.1: Developing indicators
- ESS support guide 2.3: Visual approaches to evaluation
You can also view other useful resources in the Resources & Publications section of this site.
Can ESS work with public sector?
ESS does not usually work with public sector. However if the public sector team works in partnership with third sector organisations or community groups then we may be able to support them. If this sounds like you please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we can look into this further.
Do I have to do all your workshops or can I pick and choose?
Our Let's Evaluate! workshops follow a sequence and many projects benefit from doing all of the 'starter' workshops. But you can pick and choose the best workshop for you. However participants should either attend Getting started: Outcomes and Indicators before attending any other workshop OR have a good understanding of outcomes. You might find it helpful to complete the Weaver’s Triangle before coming on any of our courses.
Can ESS tailor training for us?
Yes, we’re happy to do this. However, we find our Let's evaluate! workshops for third sector organisations meet most people’s needs. They are cheaper and already tested. If one of these doesn’t suit your needs we can tailor something for you, but we may charge for preparation time, usually half a day for each day’s training, depending on how much tailoring is involved.
Can ESS do an evaluation for us?
ESS helps organisations to learn how to evaluate their own work. We do not carry out evaluations for organisations. We can work with you to review your own information and help you reflect and learn. But we won’t gather data for you or make an independent judgement about the impact of your work. If you want an external evaluation, our website has lots of resources that will take you through when to use external consultants and how to budget for, commission and manage the process.
We recommend starting with the short support guide we have written about using external consultants in evaluation, ESS Support Guide 5.1: Getting the best from external consultants. This guide covers budgeting, commissioning an external consultant and managing the contract. We recommended that if you are thinking about using an external consultant, read this guide first, even if it is just to check that you have included everything you need to in your budget/brief.
In this section of the website there is also a database of external consultants that can be searched by location, areas of interest and keyword. Consultants self-register with this database. ESS does not endorse or guarantee the skills/experiences of any of these consultants so we recommend that before commissioning anyone, you get references from other organisation they have worked with.
We also provide a link to a free e-course that explores the process of commissioning and external consultant in more detail. It should take no more than a couple of hours to complete.
What is the difference between quality and evaluation?
Evaluation measures the difference your work makes. Quality measures how good your service is. Your service can be very good, but unless it is relevant and addresses people’s needs, it may not make a difference to anything! To find out more about quality, you can contact Quality Scotland.
What is the difference between monitoring and evaluation?
We don’t tend to worry too much about this. What matters is that you collect information about what you do and the difference you make and analyse that information, report on it and learn from it. Some people think of monitoring as the process of collecting information, and evaluation as the process of analysis and reflection. Other people see monitoring as collecting and analysing information about your activities and evaluation as collecting and analysing information about your outcomes (the difference your work makes). Pick whichever definition works for you!
Which evaluation methods/tools does ESS recommend?
ESS does not promote a single evaluation tool. There are lots of different and creative ways to engage people in evaluation. We find that evaluation works best when it fits with the way you do your work and the ethos of your organisation. Our resources section has lots of suggestions.