Monitoring and evaluation enables us to learn more about the impact and benefit of our grants on local communities, and helps us to improve our grant making. It also provides us with important feedback for our fundholders on the outcomes that their support has delivered, in turn encouraging them to continue providing that support.
The impact made in our local area is significant. People’s lives are changed by the support given to them by our fundholders. Read our latest annual review, which shares insights into the value and difference that donations and grants make to our communities. Linking to our grant priorities, as identified in Cumbria Revealed, the statistics is based on completed end of grant reports from funded groups and individuals and features infographics and case studies.
Measuring our Impact: The difference we want to make
Like most funders, we are keen to find out what difference our grant funds make – how it improves things for people and communities. All grant recipients are required to submit monitoring information on their projects but what are we looking for? It’s important to stress at this point that we’re not looking for anything complicated. We just need enough information to understand how the money has been spent, the people involved and what they got out of it. It’s worth considering:
• Sharing the evaluation form with staff in the organisation
• Discussing and deciding specific goals based on the application
• Deciding who will complete the form
• Collecting data from the outset:
• Quantitative data (numbers) – how many people are taking part or using the service, achieved goals (e.g., employment, improved health)
• Qualitative data (stories) – feedback from users and volunteers, observed increase in skills, confidence, etc.
• Learning – feedback from project participants, what went well, what would you do differently, etc.
• Building in time to complete the form
Monitoring Outcomes and Indicators
When you complete the application form, you will have been asked to select one impact theme.
You will then be required to select up to 3 outcomes as part of your application process. The primary outcome is the main change you are saying the project will achieve, so it’s important that you have selected one you feel you can deliver, as we will ask about it in the monitoring.
When you are notified of your successful grant, we will include a link to the online grant monitoring form. This will show you what outcomes and indicators you need to report on. Click here to view the list of outcomes and indicators.
A useful tip: Outcomes should relate to the most important changes that are expected to result from your project and to what is realistic and measurable within the timescales of the project.
Gathering the information
You will need to collect information to be able to evidence the change your project makes. Typical methods for gathering information include survey, questionnaire and interview. Some things are easier to evidence than others.
If you are running courses, people completing a course/achieving a qualification have automatically shown that they have learned something. If you aim to recruit new volunteers, just count them. Your group may already be collecting information as part of your activities. If you ask new members to complete a form with contact details on, add a couple of questions relevant to what you need to know. You might then follow up a few weeks later with the same question, and see how many have reported an improvement.
We’re not looking for anything fancy – a simple show of hands at the start of an event in response to a question “how many here are taking part in more physical activity since you started coming?” and write down the number.
For larger community events, try putting big sheets of paper on the wall with things like ‘learned something’ or ‘tried something new’ or ‘first time I’ve come to an event’ and ask people to put a sticker on to show their feedback. You could do an online survey sent after the event or use social media to ask what people thought and record the responses.
Your project will probably have direct participants (the people who use the project) and indirect participants (for example, their family). You only need to collect and record data on your direct participants, unless indirect participants are important to achieving your project’s outcomes.
We don’t expect you to collect information from everyone but you’ll need to have enough evidence to provide reliable figures about the people benefiting from your project.
A word of caution!
Be careful not to double count. If the same young person attends a youth group on a Friday and Saturday night, you only count them once as a participant.
When it comes to reporting on the number of volunteers that were involved in your project, be careful not to include the people taking part in your activities. For example, in a volunteer befriending project, volunteers who organise an outing can be included but not people attending the outing.
Evidence of Spend
There is the facility to attach supporting documents to the end of grant monitoring forms. Types of evidence you are asked to supply may include receipts from suppliers, timesheets/pay slip evidence to demonstrate staff time, expenses (up to HMRC approved amount), depending on the nature of the project. In submitting invoices, ideally these should be combined into a single file and come from reputable suppliers. Invoices must have an invoice number, the date they were raised and the date payment is expected and the payment terms.
Keep your monitoring and information gathering simple. Be honest! We appreciate that not everything goes to plan.
And finally, if you are in any doubt, please get in touch with us.