Impact round-up: October 2019

Welcome to our October impact round-up. Each month at NCVO Charities Evaluation Services we summarise the latest news in impact and evaluation and share useful guides, resources and data collection tools. This month is a bumper issue – there’s lots going on in the world of evaluation at the moment.

Evaluation for volunteer managers

I went to the Association of Volunteer Managers conference on 17 October to lead a workshop on impact. The volunteer managers at the workshop were grateful to be able to put time aside to think about the outcomes of their project. We busted some jargon, developed planning triangles and thought about the data that volunteer managers need to collect. I get excited about evaluation all the time – I couldn’t be an evaluator if I didn’t – but it was a rare joy to get so many other people equally excited and fired up. You can have a look at #AVM2019 on Twitter for a sense of the day, and at the resources on Inspiring Impact to get you started.

NCVO’s Time Well Spent research has lots of useful data on the impact of volunteering on volunteers. They have also published their survey questions (PDF, 351KB), so you can use these in your own evaluations and see how they compare to the national dataset.

I’ve also been involved in evaluating Volunteers’ Week – here’s what we’ve learned so far. We were particularly interested in the way that some organisations used the week as a way to raise the profile of volunteering within their organisation. We also learned that some organisations only found out about the week too late to get involved, so mark 1–7 June 2020 in your diaries from now!

Self-assessments all the way

Data Orchard and DataKind UK have just launched a data maturity self-assessment tool. This builds on the data maturity framework they launched in 2017. The framework has seven areas: uses, data, analysis, leadership, culture, tools and skills. The self-assessment is a great way to see where your organisation is doing well on data and how you can take simple steps to improve.

The framework is extremely broad, but there are more specific self-assessments available if you want to focus in on just a small number of aspects. NCVO’s digital maturity matrix looks specifically at digital capacity, of which data is one part. Measuring Up, a self assessment tool written by NCVO CES for Inspiring Impact focuses specifically on impact and evaluation practice.

We would always recommend doing some self-assessment before commissioning any consultancy or capacity building, so that you get value for money.

CENI is closing

We’re sorry to have to share the sad news that our counterparts in Northern Ireland, Community Evaluation Northern Ireland (CENI) will be closing from April 2020. The decision was taken through a vote of members at their recent AGM, in the face of rising uncertainty, economic slowdown and charities having to do more with less. These factors have led to less consultancy being commissioned. CENI leave a wonderful legacy of free resources, including through Inspiring Impact, and have contributed to improving good practice across the voluntary sector in Northern Ireland. We are very sorry to see CENI come to an end.

Also in the news and on the blogs

Training and events

NCVO provides training and events covering a range of topics, from impact to governance, volunteer management and data protection reform – with discounts for NCVO members (Not a member? Find out more about membership).

Here’s what’s coming up:

We can also come to you! Our courses can be delivered at your venue, providing an affordable way to train groups of staff, trustees or volunteers. Contact us for more information.

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Amira is a senior consultant at NCVO Charities Evaluation Services working across projects including delivering open and in-house training, supporting clients to build their evaluation capacity, conducting external evaluations, and supporting clients with strategy development.

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