In her farewell blog, Patty Lozano-Casal, Evidence into Action Manager reflects on her learning about evaluation
I can’t believe it’s been over five and a half years since I left the Scottish Government to join Evaluation Support Scotland (ESS); time flies when you enjoy what you do!
I’m afraid the time has come for a new chapter in “Patty’s book of life” but before I join See Me Scotland I wanted to share with ESS friends some reflections about evaluation from my time at ESS:
Evaluation is not rocket science
Doing evaluation can be challenging and overwhelming particularly when you lack skills and capacity. Start small and build as you go. ESS has free resources that offer simple and practical evaluation advice.
Funders really want to help
Struggling with evaluation? Talk to your funder(s)! ESS has a series of Evaluation Support Accounts where a funder pays for funded organisations to get evaluation support (e.g. workshops, tailored support), and a NEW guide to a conversation with funders on economic evaluation.
Evaluation is for your organisation primarily
It’s true that your reporting helps reassure funders that you’re making a difference to the people you work with, with the money they give you; however, evaluation is a lot more than ‘reporting’. Evaluation is about understanding why, how and for whom you do what you do. It can help you design or improve interventions, and know when to stop doing things that don’t work. Funders believe this too – check out their reporting advice in Harmonising Reporting!
Evidence is your friend, not your foe
Collecting evidence of progress towards your outcomes helps your organisation to stay on track and improve its chances of funding and sustainability. The Knowledge Translation Network published Evidence for Success, Collaborating with academics and Evidence from Elsewhere guides to help you generate and use useful evidence to inform policy and improve practice.
There’s lots of evidence within the third sector but not all of it is in the public domain. Did you know that the Scottish Third Sector Research Forum (TSRF) shines a light on third sector evidence? – Share yours now.
Embed a culture of evaluation in your organisation
Evaluation isn’t a ‘one person’s job’. All staff and trustees have a role to play; from the administrators that act as first point of contact and support people on the ground, to trustees that guide and support the organisation and the communications team that promote your wonderful work. ESS’s ‘embedding evaluation diagnostic tool’ can help you explore this with your colleagues. If you’re interested in impact practice more generally Inspiring Impact’s resources, The Code of Good Impact Practice, Measuring Up! tool and Impact Hub can help.
You are not alone
It’s hard to find the time to evaluate when there’s so many people and communities that need your help. If you struggle with evaluation and evidence, please know that you’re not alone. ESS holds events throughout the year to offer peer support, learning and networking opportunities. Join ESS’s mailing list to receive updates!
People make places
Moving jobs doesn’t seem to get easier over time: handovers with endless ‘to do’ lists; tying up loose ends in projects; clearing desks, and let’s not mention the ‘goodbyes’ to the people I work with. My ESS, KTN, TSRF and II colleagues have become like my second family; they’re like ‘gold dust’. I take my leave, thanking them for making every day at ESS worth it.
Finally, I’d like to thank our ESS friends for continuing to believe in us and the work we do. I hope our paths will cross again in the near future!
Source of Thank you picture: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Thank_You!.jpg