Sunday, 14 July 2019

The Evaluator working with The National Festival of Making

The Evaluator is delighted to announce a new client, The National Festival of Making.

The National Festival of Making is a high quality arts and cultural festival which puts art back into manufacturing and celebrates making in all shapes and formats. It's a very busy weekend event, with 24 different sites of activity across Blackburn, Lancashire which attracts a huge range of people.

It's a big deal. Last year it won the 'Best Non Music Festival' at The UK Festival Awards.

The Evaluator is helping the team understand the artistic quality of the work, capturing the audience reaction and working on identifying the economic impact on Blackburn itself.

You can see more about the National Festival of Making here. 

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

The Evaluator working with Lancashire Wildlife Trust

The Evaluator is delighted to announce a new client, Lancashire Wildlife Trust. The Evaluator will be carrying out an independent review of a particular project 'Myplace' which is eco-therapy and uses the tag line, a natural way to wellbeing.

The project works with both children and young people and adults with mental health issues. The Evaluator is carrying out a short and fast review of the programme and evaluation data to date, in order to understand the impact of the project and help the team to write a bid for future funding.

If you would like to know more about Myplace, the link to their website is here

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