Blog - The value of evaluation from a funder’s perspective.
In our second blog to celebrate Evaluation Support Scotland’s 10th year Elaine Wilson, Partnership Drugs Initiative & Strategic Support Manager, Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland, talks about the early days of ESS and the value of evaluation from a funder’s perspective.
Ten plus years ago, some very clever people with lots of evaluation experience had the foresight to think that there was a need for a support body to improve understanding on how we do more than count activities. I was lucky enough to be part of some of those meetings. I now need to clarify that I am no evaluation expert. In fact I remember many of these meetings; sitting round tables talking about things such as qualitative and quantitative evidence, outputs, outcomes, aims and targets eh!! – thinking which one means what and to whom? I felt way out my depth. Thank goodness Evaluation Support Scotland emerged.
Having first been scared of evaluation and realising it was part of my job I had to make it feel less daunting and turn it into something that was understandable, friendly and meaningful. The Partnership Drugs Initiative (PDI) engaged ESS and during that time Steven Marwick used his infamous phrase, and asked us ‘So what?’ ESS helped the PDI implement a simple system which improved our approaches to reflecting and gathering information that demonstrate the difference funded projects make. ESS provided clarity and focus by making us consider three simple questions:
1. What difference are we trying to make
2. How do we know
3. And how do we support funded groups to tell us
This sounds almost like the template for Harmonising Report! Having ESS still here is a great asset as it enables us to ensure that we continue to reflect and learn. Having the additional resource of Harmonising Reporting, which I know has been around for a while, is still a vital part of the ESS package for funders. This ensures we have a guide and checklist to demystifying why we ask funded projects for certain information.
By making it less scary for me, made it easier for me to speak with funded projects and help them understand why and how we use their information. This has been invaluable and while this may not feel like rocket science, it has helped us better understand how the PDI fund has improved the outcomes for children and young people.
For more information about PDI please see Lloyds TSB website
ESS supports third sector organisations and funders to be better at measuring their impact, reporting on the difference they make, to deliver better services.
For more information about how ESS supports funders click here