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Learning from self-evaluation – your learning

Our summer 2023 theme is learning from self-evaluation. We’ve been sharing what YOU can learn from evaluation throughout August. This blog is a round-up of our messages!

So, you’ve been working your way through the evaluation pathway.

You’ve set your outcomes and indicators. Collected evidence. Made sense of your data and presented it in a meaningful way. And communicated your evaluation to relevant people.

These steps are important. However, as ESS CEO Steven Marwick says: ”evaluation is not about ticking boxes; it is about learning!” 

You could learn more about your services

Within the third sector, we have a lot of information about the problems we are trying to solve. From climate change to the cost of living. Self-evaluation is an opportunity to learn about our solutions to these problems. 

  • You could discover what works! You could learn that you are meeting your outcomes, i.e. you are making the difference you were hoping to make. This is important as it provides evidence that your activities are necessary and an opportunity to celebrate your work. 
  • You could discover what doesn’t work! Maybe your activity does not meet your outcome the way you hoped it would. This might be frustrating to find out. However, it’s important to know to ensure that your valuable and limited resources are not wasted. 
  • You could discover that there is something you’re not doing that you could be doing! Feedback can reveal more about your beneficiaries’ needs and whether there’s a gap in your services where you could help meet them.

Learning from evaluation can help you identify your next steps, and ensures your decisions are evidence-based

You could learn more about the sector you’re in

Bringing together evidence about what works or doesn’t work within your organisation provides a good opportunity to join this learning together with others in the sector. 

For example, ESS facilitated a learning event bringing organisations funded by the NLCF together to evaluate the difference their projects are making to the lives of New Scots. Read more here

ESS also facilitated a learning programme which brought together projects funded by the NLCF to share their experiences and learning about preventing homelessness, and to discover more about working in partnership. Read more here.  

ESS could help – our shared learning programmes involve projects and funders coming together to identify, discuss and capture shared learning. This removes pressure from funding officers who would otherwise be responsible for identifying wider learning from individual reports. Read more here. 

You could learn more about your evaluation process

As you learn more about the impact you’re making, you may also learn about how well your evaluation process is working. ESS is clear that there is no absolute standard for self-evaluation. However, there are principles you can use to judge if your evaluation is good enough for you. Read more about the principles for good evaluation

  • Did you spot any strengths or weaknesses in your evaluation process?  
  • Do you have missing data, or did you collect data that you won’t use? 
  • Are you just stuck with your evaluation altogether?! 
Read our resources below: 

We have one last topic within our summer theme – Our learning from evaluation is your learning about evaluation. We’ll share these throughout September. Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter to keep up-to-date with our messages!