News & blog

Reporting on the challenges and changes of the last year – where to begin?

It’s hard to imagine any part of Scotland’s third sector which has not been challenged and changed over the last 12 months by the COVID-19 pandemic. Organisations large and small, working with all groups in society, have adapted to new needs and ways of delivering their services. A year on from the first lockdown, getting ready to report on how all of these initial plans changed can be daunting. Reporting on a year of work offers organisations a great opportunity not only to celebrate success and account for funds spent, but to share learning about what works and what more is needed.

In the Harmonising Reporting Template there is a specific section which directs projects to reflect on their challenges and changes. There will certainly be a lot to put in this section after the last year, but what report writers and readers don’t need to see is a blow-by-blow run down of the twists and turns of what happened. This section is most helpful when we turn the focus instead on to how these changes affected our plans, how we responded to them, and what we learned from it all.

For example, one project running support groups for socially isolated older people will have had to stop meeting in person due to social distancing. They were able to adapt their existing work to be delivered online instead (perhaps with bumps on that journey) and have continued meeting the same needs and working towards the same outcomes. Another project working to meet families’ needs through a food bank may have been busier than ever and with much higher demand (and complications in project delivery) but able to operate in much the same way that they have done in the past. COVID-19 happened to both projects, but how they were affected and how they were able to respond is very different.

The key to drawing out useful learning on challenges and changes starts with useful questions to ask ourselves and the data we have collected. We’ve drawn together some useful questions for analysis and reporting on COVID-19 in the document linked below. Answering questions like these will help us to celebrate success and innovation, understand our communities’ challenges more deeply, and plan even better services for the future.