Impact round-up: January 2020

Welcome to the January edition of our monthly 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.

NCVO’s strategy: insights and learning

Three months ago we launched our new strategy process – our first in 7 years – alongside the start of our first new CEO in 25 years. In that time, we’ve moved quickly to set up the right processes to make big decisions about our future.

Megan Griffith Gray, director of strategy and transformation and Alex Farrow, lead consultant and strategy specialist for NCVO CES, have been blogging about their learning from the process on NCVO’s new strategy microsite. If you want to see how we’re approaching the strategy process and what we’re learning – the good, the bad and the ugly – then follow the blogs.

One insight from the process so far is how important it is to have good information to back up our hunches. That’s why we’re doing large-scale qualitative research with our members to understand their challenges and priorities.

If you would like to share your views on NCVO’s strategy, you can get involved online or come along to one of our members’ assemblies.

Evaluation for new or emerging initiatives

Our colleagues in the international development space have been thinking a lot about how evaluation needs to change for innovative or emerging programmes in complex environments. They argue that in these contexts evaluation needs different approaches and skills. They contrast this with traditional, linear evaluation approaches where the organisation develops a theory of change and evaluation framework and then seeks to collect data against the indicators in that framework. Instead, approaches for innovative programmes need more flexible designs and methodologies appropriate for working with complexity and uncertainty.

This means that evaluators also need different skills – being more comfortable with conflict, ambiguity and strategic discussions.

It’ll be interesting to see how these ideas translate across to evaluation of innovative programmes in the UK voluntary sector.

For more detail, have a look at this article from the Centre for Innovation Evaluation entitled ‘Are you ready for developmental evaluation’ and this one from Intrac on adaptive management and evaluation.

Also in the news and on the blogs

More on the relationship between evaluation and learning in this blog from Evaluation Support Scotland in collaboration with the National Lottery Community Fund. Top tips include talking about evaluation at team meetings, make it visual and don’t panic!

A more academic offering this time: a realist evaluation report on a community youth music scheme that’s published in an open access journal. Worth reading for the way that they explore causal links between how the programme is run and the outcomes it achieved.

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).

Here’s what’s coming up:

  • Developing your theory of change – 21 January
  • Outcome and impact measurement (two days) – 6 and 7 February
  • How to report on outcome and impact data – 12 February
  • How to collect outcome and impact data – 26 February
  • Strategic planning: Creating the right process for your organisation – 16 March
  • Outcomes and impact assessment for funders, grant makers and commissioners – 26 March

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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Avatar photo 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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