Friday, 21 June 2019

Evaluation Tips Series; Think about the audience right at the beginning

Here at The Evaluator we teach workshops to small community and charitable groups and show them how to plan out and carry out an evaluation of their own.


First of all, let's go right back to basics.

What is an evaluation?

A structured method to understand what happened during a project or activity. It is likely to cover who took part, what was the impact, and to answer the question: did the project or activity achieve its goal?

Sometimes it could be as simple as a conversation about what worked well and what didn’t.


One of the first things we talk about is 'Who is the audience?' We don't mean who is the audience for your activity or who is taking part, we mean - who is reading the evaluation itself, who is the audience for the evaluation?

There are four main answers...

  1. Public Document
  2. Funders
  3. Potential Funders or Sponsors
  4. Internal 


If an evaluation is designed to be a public document, then it needs to be written in a formal way. Chances are a public document will also be aimed at either current funders or potential funders.

If you are writing for  funders, they probably want to see the difference their investment has made and to know if it has achieved the aims.

If it is for potential funders or sponsors, they may be much more interested in the type of people you are working with and think about specific questions like; What they are struggling with? What is upsetting them? What do they want?  It's about finding the problem and offering a well planned solution to that problem.

If the audience is internal, you probably want to help the charity or community group understand how they can improve what they currently do, and measure what is working well and could be increased and what is not so effective and could be scaled back or changed. Sometimes an internal evaluation will be designed to help answer a specific question, for example, what can we do to recruit more participants? Or how can a specific problem be fixed. Often an internal evaluation is carried out when there is a feeling that something is not working well, or something is wrong, but there isn't a clear and obvious answer what it may be.

Overall, thinking at the beginning about what you are trying to produce and answer is a vital part of a great evaluation. Time spent planning at this stage isn't wasted.



Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

The Evaluator working with Keighley Healthy Living

The Evaluator is delighted to announce a new partnership with the holistic health and wellbeing charity, Keighley Healthy Living.

We are going to be helping them to evaluate a new reaching communities project, Keighley CONNECTS, funded through the National Lottery Community Fund.

Keighley CONNECTS is a project which works to empower individuals through a wide range of different groups, exploring which activities make a difference to people's lives and a key part of the work we will be doing is to explore the difference between traditional tutor-led groups and those led by peer-supporters.

The Evaluator has designed a standard procedure evaluation to run across all groups; easy to complete for participants and with a unique and quick staff assessment we hope to be sharing some eye catching information soon.

You can read more about the charity, Keighley Healthy Living, here 


Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Why The Evaluator loves Networking

The Evaluator started in April 2017, as a business it's just over two years old. It's grown, quite organically, with word of mouth recommendations.

Things changed in December 2018 when Kirsty Rose Parker, our director, went from working part time on this to full time. All of a sudden, she could say yes to events and attend more stuff.

That has made a huge difference. Clients have increased, turnover has increased and more work means more innovation which all the existing clients are benefiting from too. Kirsty puts this all down to networking.

 "Meeting people in person means you can explain what you do much more effectively and people do still buy people" Kirsty says. 

Often, people don't fully understand what an evaluator does and once it's explained most people understand how helpful it can be. After all, which business or charity doesn't want to be as effective as they can be. Knowing what an audience experience is, or which part of the work is most effective can often be the difference between surviving and thriving.

With all that in mind, what are our top tips for networking:


  1. Think about your ideal audience - who are they and where will they be?
  2. Search out free events - good ones for The Evaluator are often ones run by funding bodies like The Arts Council or National Lotttery Fund for Heritage.
  3. Look on eventbrite - you can search for what is happening by area or day and often come across some perfect events. 
  4. Show up on time, with plenty of business cards.
  5. The Evaluator made up a paper portfolio and took this round to show examples of their work - this was a great success as it easily explained the different ways an evaluation can help people. 
  6. Smile and chat to people. It can sometimes feel a bit scary, but usually everyone is feeling much the same. 
  7. Try some formal networking routes - The Evaluator tried out BNI, Shout and Girl Tribe Gang. All of them were well organised and full of interesting people. The Evaluator isn't able to commit the time needed to really do one of these properly at the moment - as they only work if you can attend regularly and spend time getting to know the other people around the table. The Evaluator plans to join one of these formally within the next few months. 
  8. Don't be disheartened if one of the events doesn't work out like you had hoped. In a way you never know who is attending and who might hear of something relevant in the future. 
  9. Just enjoy meeting new people.

Networking is now an embedded part of The Evaluator's business, with months allocated during the year to dedicate to this - we have chosen January and September for a networking focus and commit to attending one event each month in addition.

Watch out for us popping up at an event near you!


Monday, 15 April 2019

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Collecting people's experiences through games; Arts Bingo

Collecting information doesn't have to be boring. Sometimes a piece of paper is absolutely the best option, but sometimes you want to do something different.

Back in 2018, The Evaluator started working with In-Situ - an arts organisation who had just gained Arts Council England 'National Portfolio Organisation' status. Right at the beginning of their NPO journey they wanted a benchmark - to understand what impact they were currently having, or not-having, and commissioned The Evaluator to carry out a creative benchmarking exercise.

In-Situ are a socially engaged arts practice, who use the term 'embedded'. They have long term aims around bringing arts into the everyday life of people living in their local area - Brierfield immediately and Pendle as a slightly wider aim.

The Evaluator wanted to try and create a measure that could show how much people engaged with arts in their everyday life, now, and for it to be easy to replicate in the future so the team can measure if the work they are doing is changing attitudes over time.

Trying to capture a wider sense of something is usually best done by asking quite a lot of questions, although this could feel quite repetitive for those taking part.

The solution to this was 'Arts Bingo'.



Playing 'Arts Bingo' with people across Pendle, some of whom were new to working with In-Situ and some of whom had been working with In-Situ for a long time, gave a clear picture. The longer people worked with In-Situ, the more engaged in arts they became. 

It was great fun to play too - sometimes we even had members of the audience taking their turn as bingo callers. A really simple idea, well executed and with great data as an outcome. 

In-Situ were so pleased with the work carried out for them, they appointed The Evaluator to be their Evaluator-in-residence. 

The Evaluator will definitely be playing more bingo in the future. 

Saturday, 30 March 2019

We have been nominated for an award...

Exciting times! The Evaluator, which is led by director, Kirsty Rose Parker has been nominated for an 'Enterprise Vision Award' which recognises women in business in the North West of England. In fact, it's the largest event of it's kind outside London.

We won't find out for ages if we have won, although we do get to put posh frocks on and head over to the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.

Wish us luck!