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Using Impact Evaluations to Support Fundraising

using impact evaluations to support fundraising

In recent years, impact evaluation has become increasingly important in fundraising, as donors look for evidence that their support is having the desired effect and charities recognise their accountability to stakeholders to show they are meeting their charitable objects.

Today, most charities produce an impact report and this is often preceded by an impact evaluation.

Benefits of Impact Evaluations

  • Evaluations gather much useful information for the annual impact report, including statistics, client feedback, case studies etc
  • They help charities to understand what is working well and where improvements need to be made in their service delivery, thus improving performance and effectiveness
  • They involve clients in feeding back about what they need and the extent to which the charity is delivering for them (or not), thus helping to ensure that charities remain client focussed
  • They provide useful evidence for future fundraising and especially for major grant makers and commissioners. In particular, Lottery boards appreciate project evaluations and are often prepared to pay for them as part of a grant.

  • Where a charity is seeking continuation funding, evaluations are sometimes a requirement

    So how then do you go about conducting a project evaluation? There are two main options. Either you can conduct an evaluation inhouse, or you can use an external provider.

    DIY Impact Evaluations

    The advantages of doing it inhouse are that this method is cheaper 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 by funders.

    External Impact Evaluations

    Hiring an outside practitioner, while involving some cost, has the advantage of bringing additional capacity, as well as drawing on wider experience of evaluating projects across many organisations. An external evaluation is also seen by funders as more objective than one delivered inhouse and can often tell a charity things that internal staff either do not notice or are too shy to mention.

    The Evaluation Process

    Whichever route you choose, impact evaluations follow a similar process, involving the collection and scrutiny of documentation, the design of questionnaires, interviews with internal and external stakeholders, analysis and report writing. A good evaluation provides both valuable feedback and a blue print for improvement.

    So impact evaluations are a good investment of time and resources and something that can help an organisation to stay ahead in fundraising. Increasingly, grant makers are expecting to see organisations conducting or commissioning them as part of their continuous improvement.

    Please ask if you need help

    If you have a project that needs to be evaluated or if you need help to create an impact report, please contact us today on 01903 723519 for a free initial discussion of your needs. We have considerable experience in conducting evaluations for clients and in writing fundraising copy, especially for those seeking grants from the National Lottery.

    There is more information here about our impact evaluation service.

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