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Making the Most of Project Evaluations

Every charity believes its work is important and is making an impact, but how do you know and how can you prove it? One way is to conduct an evaluation of your project, in order to build evidence about the value of your work and the way it is changing lives for the better.

Increasingly, funders such as charitable trusts, lottery boards and statutory organisations are asking for evidence of impact and requiring applicants to submit detailed evaluations of their projects, especially if they are seeking continuation funding. This is because funders are accountable to their stakeholders and need to show that their money is being used well. It also helps them to pick the best prospects from among their many applicants.

Such evaluations go beyond the traditional statistics that show the needs being addressed or the inputs/outputs/outcomes and often involve client feedback and input from a range of other stakeholders. Charities and other not-for-profit organisations therefore need to know how to demonstrate the full impact of their work and how to present this in an engaging and compelling way.

So project evaluations have become an important way to evidence your impact and are therefore an additional tool in the fundraising kit.

How then do you go about evaluating a project? There are two main options. Either you can conduct an evaluation inhouse, or you can use an external provider. The advantages of doing it inhouse are that this method is cheap and of course you already have an understanding of the work to be assessed. However, you may not have the experience or the time required to do the job effectively and the findings may be seen as subjective. Hiring an outside practitioner, while involving some cost, has the advantages of buying additional capacity, as well as being able to draw on wide experience of evaluating projects across many organisations. An external evaluation can also be seen by funders as more objective than one delivered inhouse.

Whichever way you address them, project evaluations are a good investment in themselves, can be used to support major applications and can help to secure continuation or development funding for projects.

If you have a project that needs to be evaluated, please contact us today on 01785 663600 for a free initial discussion of your needs. We have experience in conducting numerous project evaluations for clients, especially those seeking funding from the Big Lottery Fund.

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