Reporting best practice

ESS tells the third sector that they should not do evaluation just to please their funder.  Good evaluation should be useful and used by them.  However, funders have a strong influence on the effectiveness (or not!) of third sector evaluation.   

This page has tips and resources to ensure your reporting practice as a funder results in useful and proportionate reporting.  It draws on ESS’s experience of working with funders and from regular consultation with the third sector through surveys and events.

You can support evaluation by doing the following:

  1. Be up front about your reporting requirements, e.g. put them on your website.  Ask funded organisations for feedback on your requirements. 
  2. Most funders want to know what funded organisations did, what difference they made and what they learned.  Follow that best practice – see here for an example.  
  3. Use a flexible reporting format. See our guidance on pros and cons of different approaches.
  4. Where you are co-funding a project or piece of work accept a report written for the other funder – and say up front that you will.
  5. Accept realistic outcomes in reports.  Funded organisations should report on outcomes that are directly and reasonably achievable by them in the reporting period.
  6. Give feedback on reports, including what you liked.  This shows funded organisations you care and helps them report more effectively in future. 
  7. Use funded organisations reports and don’t ask for information you don’t use. See this blog for best practice.
  8. Refer organisations to evaluation support, especially small organisations that may not understand what help they need.   See here for more information.

Resources and case studies on funders and funded relationships:

Useful related pages:

See what we tell funded organisations about about reporting

Resources to support funders: evaluation guides, reports, tools and more

History of our work to improve reporting