Tuesday, 8 October 2019

The Evaluator working with Ripon YMCA

The Evaluator is delighted to announce a new partnership with Ripon YMCA, helping them to measure the impact on their young people which comes from having a secure home.

Ripon YMCA has space for young people who have nowhere to live, they offer supported housing to some of the most vulnerable young people in the area; care leavers, those who have suffered family breakdown, people with mental health problems, addictions and anger among other tribulations.

The Evaluator is going to be working closely with the organisation to help them refine their data collection systems; so they accurately can understand their impact and communicate that quickly and clearly to funders and donors.

Measuring the impact of feeling safe, is going to be really important in this project. The Evaluator is going to be running a workshop with the young people who live there too, to make sure their voices are included; it's a participatory project.

You can see more about Ripon YMCA here.

Monday, 7 October 2019

You can't win them all!

We announced a while ago that our director, Kirsty Rose Parker, was a finalist in the EVA awards 2019.

Sadly, she didn't win. The winner in her category was an amazing photographer; with national photography prizes under her belt and a London exhibition of her work, alongside articles in national newspapers.

"She also had some really great photographs of cows and how can you compete with that!" Kirsty explained.

However, Kirsty had a great night.

"Networking with so many inspirational women was fantastic. Just on my table was a lovely woman who had set up a charity, called Spoons, which supports families who have premature babies in hospitals. Kirsten, the founder, had a son who was born at 24 weeks and survived and is healthy and her experience of spending months with a baby in NICU had inspired her to help others who are in the same boat" Kirsty explained.

You can read more about the charity here - and Spoons was lucky enough to receive £1000 worth of donations on the night! How wonderful was that?

Also on Kirsty's table was the winner of the lifetime achievement inspirational woman; Susanna Lawson, who set up OneFile Ltd which is an online portfolio for apprentices, and which will support 1 million learners by 2020. You can read more about OneFile here.

Kirsty says "Susanna really was amazing, a very impressive businesswoman, I can see why she won such a fantastic award"

Overall, a good night was had by all!

Kirsty concludes; "to be a finalist - one of the last 45 women from over 1000 applicants/ nominees is still a pretty amazing feeling."

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Evaluation Tips Series;

This is part three in our evaluation tips series, you can see part one here and part two here.

Once you have decided on your demographics, it's time to look at the specifics of what it is you are trying to change or measure.

Are you trying to make people more connected? Less lonely? Then you can keep it simple and ask people how often they go out, repeat this at the end and see if there is an average change – or an individual change. Or you could ask do you have enough friends?

If your project or activity will have an impact on people's emotions and well-being, the Warwick Edinburgh Scale of Wellbeing is a really useful tool. You can see more about this here. 

A number of projects recently have been helping people back to employment. You can simply measure if people do get a job or go back into training or into volunteering. Often, though, this misses the majority of the journey. People who have never worked, might take a long time and need a lot of support to get back to employment. They might not get a job during the majority of the project, but you have made a difference in their live. In order to show this effectively, we have created a journey back to work road-map. It shows all the steps people may take on their journey from not working, to building confidence and skills.

You might want to measure if people had fun, if they moved more or were more physically active. Did they visit the doctor less or use less medication or support services? Did you change their attitudes or did they learn something new? For example, in a recent project about suffragettes we asked people to name any prominent suffragettes at the beginning and then again at the end and showed how many more people could talk about on a graph.

You might want to understand people's motivation and it can be helpful to find out why people wanted to be involved, and what attracted them. If you ask enough people too, what they think might motivate others, or what might make a better project, you can use this information to improve your services. These kind of questions do need to be specific, you can’t just ask, ‘what motivates you to do this?’ It's much better to ask something like ‘Why do you think people volunteer?’, and give five answers to choose from and an ‘other’ option. 

Some good questions to ask include:

  • Did you enjoy yourself? 
  • Would you recommend this to a friend? 
  • How often were you active in the last two weeks? (Ask at the start and again at the end and see what the change is).
  • How often did you visit the GP in the last three months? (Ask at the start and again at the end and see what the change is). 
  • Are you content with your employment status? 
  • Did you make friends? 
  • Do you leave the house as much as you want to? 
  • Does your health stop you from doing everything you want to? 

Don’t forget the staff! 
Staff, Volunteers, Artists and Providers can all be a useful source of information. You could get staff to assess people at the start and again at the end or you could ask staff what they thought worked well and what would they change?

Example; questions about marketing:
  • How did you hear about the project / activity?
  • Did you tell a friend?
  • Did you mention this on social media?
  • How should we share this?
  • Where should we send a press release?
    • Or ask staff: What marketing method was most successful?

These are just a sample of the kind of questions you might want to ask. These are questions which are mostly used with adults. We will talk about children and young people in another article. 

If you are in doubt; or feeling unsure about what to ask... here are some core questions. Asking just these will give you a really strong basic evaluation.
  • What did you enjoy the most? 
    • Or Staff: What worked best?
  • What did you enjoy the least?
    • Or Staff: What worked the least?
  • What could we do better?
    • Or Staff: What do you think could have gone better?
  • Would you recommend to a friend? 
    • Or Staff: Would you run this again?

Above all, keep it simple. People are more likely to understand simple questions and that makes them more likely to answer. We will talk about ways to collect information in part four. Impact is often all about ‘what changed’  so don't forget to ask something at the start, repeat it at the end and see what the change is.

Thursday, 5 September 2019

The Evaluator working with Stronger Communities

The Evaluator is delighted to announce a new partnership, working with Stronger Communities across parts of North Yorkshire on their new approach to working with rather than for communities; ABCD.

Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) is a way of encouraging people to think about the strengths that they have already got in their lives, their communities and their neighbourhoods and celebrate the ways in which people already create positive change. ABCD is all about connection. Connecting people. Connecting passions. Connecting ideas.

With that firmly in mind, The Evaluator is working on a participatory evaluation, using the skills of the community and working together to explore what is possible in terms of measurement. Initially working on surveys, designed together, to measure hopes and concerns and understanding in the team itself, The Evaluator is really getting to explore the creative side of evaluation in this project.

Ideas currently include drawing maps, asking people what are good questions and designing a workshop to identify what success means to people who are connecting.

There is a lot of common sense in the ABCD approach, which you can find out more about here.

The Evaluator loves a challenge, and this is one. Rethinking every bit of language is just the start!

Thursday, 22 August 2019

The Evaluator working with Community First Yorkshire

The Evaluator has just completed a short term piece of work with Community First Yorkshire. Community First Yorkshire provides practical support and rural advocacy to voluntary and community organisations, parish councils and social enterprises. They run networks, training and projects.

The Evaluator recently carried out a series of twenty case studies; from larger more established organisations like the YMCA right through to small volunteer led organisations. Staff from The Evaluator have spent time in the sunshine, travelling around North Yorkshire, interviewing community groups in stunning locations. What was equally impressive was the range of work going on - from new build parish halls, to reinvented churches, to gardens full of volunteers, professional factories employing adults with learning disabilities and projects working to reduce homelessness in young people, to help men open up about their emotions and to empower all the volunteers and trustees who lead the organisations.

Kirsty Rose Parker, our founder and director explains, "listening to the stories of the charities we work with is, without a doubt, one of the most emotional and moving parts of the business. It really helps to remind us of how important their work is, and ultimately how important our work is, making sure they can tell their impact effectively and making sure they can continue to deliver the life changing activity they do".

You can read more about Community First Yorkshire here

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Evaluation Tips Series; What questions do you need answering?

This is part two in our Evaluation Tips Series, you can see part one here

Once you have planned out who the evaluation is for, it's time to think about what questions you need answering.

Key Questions to think about:

  • What are / were the project / activity aims?
    • If a project is trying to improve confidence or health, make sure you ask about changes in confidence or health
  • What is the impact you expect to happen?
    • For example, do you think people will be more physically active as a result of the work your charity does? Then ask them how many days they were active in the last two weeks at the start of your work with them and repeat this and see what has changed
  • What is happening during the project? 
    • Do people take part for years or on just one day? If it's just one day, you will need to collect all your information then, if it is years you might want to have an annual collection month and talk to all your participants every February for example
  • What do we want to know the answers to?
    • Sometimes it can be as simple as are the sessions on the right day and time, how did people hear about the programme and would they tell a friend to come along? Sometimes it's more nuanced and you want to know if they have learnt about a particular topic or that they get on better with their family because of the work you have done
  • How much time is there to collect?
    • If you only have a little bit of time, only ask a few questions
  • How much time is there to analyse?
    • If you only have an hour to analyse the information, just ask a few questions. It's better to look at what you learn rather than collect lots of information and have no time to do anything with it! 
  • What information already exists?
    • Often projects overlook the information they already collect, if there are registers - do people come regularly? If you have an enrolment form, you may already collect all the demographics you need. 


Demographics simply relate to the kind of people you work with; young or old, male or female, whether from an ethnic minority or not. Funders almost always want to know if you have reached the people you thought you would so if your evaluation is designed for funders, you will almost certainly want to collect this information.

Collecting Age

Here you can choose whether to ask people their date of birth, or get them to tick age brackets. Some people do not like giving this information so always make sure there is a 'prefer not to say' option.

The reason for collecting age is simply to find out how old the people are who are taking part. Once you know the age you can answer the following questions; Is this project aimed at a particular age group? Did you reach them? Who is missing and what does that mean for planning in the future?

Collecting Gender

This is usually best kept simple and you can ask people to tick

  • Male
  • Female
  • Non Binary
  • Prefer not to say

Unless there is a reason otherwise, you would normally like to try and hit 50% male and 50% female. If you didn't make a 50/50 split, ask yourself why not? What does that mean?

Collecting Ethnicity

If you do only see people very briefly you could ask people if they consider themselves from a white background or from a black and minority ethnic background (often referred to as BME) or give people the option to choose 'prefer not to say'. Sometimes people refer to BAMER now which stands for black and minority and refugee backgrounds. On the whole, though, it's probably best to use the standard ethnicity question as recommended by the census, office for national statistics and almost all funders. The standard question is below, in italics, so you can just copy it from here if you want.

What is your ethnic group?
·         English/ Welsh/Scottish/ Northern Irish
·         Irish
·         Gypsy or Irish Traveller
·         Other White background
·         White and Black Caribbean
·         White and Black African
·         White and Asian
·         Other Mixed/ multiple ethnic background
Asian or Asian British
·         Indian
·         Pakistani
·         Bangladesh
·         Chinese
·         Other Asian background
Black or Black British
·         African
·         Caribbean
·         Other Black/African/Caribbean background
·         Arab
·         Other

·         Prefer not to say

Collecting Postcodes

Here at The Evaluator we always try and collect postcodes. Postcodes are very helpful if you want to show the location of people on a map – which can be done through Google Maps for free.

Collecting Disability

There are a few ways of collecting this but we tend to go for 'Do you consider yourself disabled?' and give four options;

  1. Yes, very
  2. Yes, a little
  3. No 
  4. Prefer not to say
That's because we believe in simple questions. It is really important to collect information on disability, we often find that people with disabilities don't have the same outcomes as people who are not disabled and this means projects need to think carefully about the work they are doing and how they can make it better, so everyone can achieve. 

Finally, some funding bodies want information collected on Socio-Economic Status – Employment Status or Household income, and Sexual Orientation and Gender Reassignment. If your project is funded, check your funding body requirements first – it will make your life a lot easier at the end. 

Monday, 22 July 2019

The Evaluator is a finalist!

A little while ago we mentioned that our director Kirsty Rose Parker, was nominated for an award. We are pleased to announce she has now been chosen as a finalist.

Kirsty says, "it's such an honour to be chosen as a finalist. It is an amazing feeling to be picked, and to be on a list with some other really inspirational women. Congratulations to all the other women chosen!"

The local press have also had some wonderful words to say, and Kirsty is mentioned in this article, 'Lancashire Businesswomen in Top Awards!". You can read the article here.

Kirsty has to attend a judging panel next and give a presentation and be grilled on her work. Then it's a short wait until the glittering awards ceremony at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.

Here at The Evaluator we could not be more pleased.