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Big Lottery Fund learning support for grantholders

Big Lottery Fund learning support for grantholders is run by Evaluation Support Scotland (ESS) on behalf of Big Lottery Fund in Scotland from November 2017 to 2020

Evaluation Support Scotland (ESS) is delivering free learning and self-evaluation support to a range of Big Lottery Fund grantholders in Scotland from November 2017 to 2020.

What difference will this support make to me as a Big Lottery Fund grantholder?

Learning and self-evaluation will help you tell the story of your impact to funders and help you improve and deliver even better work.

Grantholders will be better able to:

  • self-evaluate their work
  • use learning to improve delivery
  • demonstrate the difference they are making and
  • share their learning with others.

What support is on offer?

Grantholders can take up a range of support such as:

1-1 tailored support:

This is a face to face meeting tailored to grantholder specific needs such as: 

  • identifying and creating evaluation methods and tools that fit your work
  • making sense of feedback and data for learning and reports
  • embedding evaluation and involving the people you work with.

Let’s Evaluate! workshops

There are three workshops that grantholders can attend (one, two or all three) of the following workshops:

 Getting Started

  • clarifying the difference you want to make and what you need to evaluate 

Make to Measure

  • choosing the right evaluation methods and tools and developing a plan

Telling My Story

  • analysing data collected, using analysis for learning and reporting.

Online resources

Webinar: Making it stick - embedding evaluation in your organisation took place on Monday 1st October 2018 at 10am. 


Webinar: Recording of Making it Stick from 1 October 18 from Evaluation Support Scotland on Vimeo.

Slides with links here

Making it stick - embedding evaluation resource

Embedding evaluation diagnostic tool 

Webinar: Fit for purpose evaluation took place on 18 December 2018

Resources mentioned in webinar:

Method sheets

Method sheet: Using case records

Why bother involving people you work with in evaluation - beyond evaluation 


Workbooks cover the key information given at workshops and include exercises to work through. These can be used in addition to attending a workshop or instead of workshops. 

You can also access our resources here including method sheets and tools and our evaluation support guides.

Additional support, resources, and case studies will be developed in the future including:

  • webinars to share tools, approaches and learning 
  • peer learning and specialist events
  • new sections on the website will include emerging tools, methods, blogs and case studies, including in relation to the Big Lottery Fund’s three approaches.

Topics and dates will be developed in response to emerging grantholder needs. Keep in touch through this page.


How to get support?

If you are interested in accessing learning support please contact your Funding Officer at the Big Lottery Fund. All support is free of charge to the grantholder. Once a referral has been made, the ESS team will discuss your support needs with you and agree how best to meet them.

Learning and self-evaluation support is not mandatory but is an opportunity to learn more about how your organisation and the service you deliver is working.

Involving young people in evaluation

Why bother involving people in evaluation - beyond feedback?BLF Why bother? workshop

In the Year of Young People we are supporting 7 projects funded by the Big Lottery Fund to involve young people in evaluation using Why bother involving people in evaluation - beyond feedback 

The programme is led by Martha Lester-Cribb, assisted by Nicola Swan. 

The projects will meet twice. The first meeting in July 2018 introduced the publication and each project developed an action plan to use the workbook.

Between July and October the projects will involve the young people they work with in evaluation and create a case study reflecting on their experience. The group will meet again in November to share their learning and identify key messages to be shared more widely.   

Projects taking part



Evaluation Stage

 Ways young people could be involved in

Fuse Youth Café Glasgow

1. Setting outcomes

 Setting outcomes / indicators for the programme

The Machan Trust

2. Collecting information

 Collecting evidence of outcomes, photos, videos, collages, podcasts


3. Analysing and reporting

 Designing the type of information we require for evaluating and reporting.   Suggesting the most effective ways to evaluate and report their stories / feedback.

Articulate Cultural Trust

1. Setting outcomes

 Ideas and discussion around what they feel their project success might look like – as individuals and as a group.  Thinking through what is realistic to achieve considering the complexity of their lives and how much and of what kind of change is possible.  Thinking through how we can evidence any improvements they wish to see happen.


South Ayrshire Befriending

2. Collecting information
3. Analysing and reporting

 Flipchart from BLF Why bother? workshopEvaluating our programme of group activities. Devising materials and methods to collect information,  then analysing and reporting back to the board, staff, young people, funders (video, mood board, collage…)

Regen: FX Youth Trust

(Springhall & Whitlawburn Youth Development Team)

2. Collecting information

 Shaping the design of evaluation materials, deciding the best methods of evaluating, carrying out evaluation with other young people

Gowrie Care

2. Collecting information

 Designing meaningful evaluation.  Deciding how young people can be involved in the future.


Martin Cawley, Scotland Director, Big Lottery Fund - Why learning from others is important

In the video below Martin Cawley, Scotland Director, Big Lottery Fund, talks about the importance of providing opportunities for grantholders to learn from each other.


More learning 


Developing evaluation culture in your organisation - a challenge worth taking on!- Louise Bowwen, Knowledge and Networks Officer at Evaluation Support Scotland gives tips on how to get people on board with evaluation

Facing the fear of evaluation - Martha Lester-Cribb talks about overcoming the fear of self-evaluation with some simple tips to get started

Funders really DON'T just want numbers, honest! - Nicola Swan

Case studies

Nicola Swan, ESS Evaluation Support Manager interviewed some third sector organisations and funders to explore issues around improving relationships between funder and funded organisation. She has written three case studies to illustrate the learning:

Clear communication and constructive feedback - shows how the Big Lottery Fund supports the organisations they fund throughout the application and reporting stages.

"Doing something different to feedback to our funders" - shows funders how being flexible with reporting requirements can help funded organisations tell their story

Adapting project outcomes if things don't initially work out - shows how a learning approach can mutually benefit both funders and funded organisations


What is an indicator?

Explaining evaluation in one minute videos


  • What is an outcome?
  • Writing an outcome
  • What is an indicator?
  • Working out what to measure: setting indicators

View the above videos here


Related Resources

ESS support guide

ESS Support Guide 4b Reflective practice

Includes suggestions of ways to prompt your reflective practice and tools to get you thinking in a systematic way in ...

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