A learning tool

Evaluation has traditionally  been used in the third sector  to “justify” funding from this or that funder.

Considering the complex needs of beneficiaries, the wide range of interventions and the rippling effect of “lesser interventions”, trying to evaluate a stream of funding/funder is an incredible way to minimise or reduce the impact of the sector.

Everyone working at the grassroots level knows that it is not this or that stream that directly affects a project, but the combination of streams that allow the project to keep on going! 

How can you evaluate this £500 from XYZ funder, injected on a certain project to continue the work you are doing with this group of people?!

The Third Sector Trends of November 2022 mentions something about smaller charities that worried me.

“Much of the work of the Third Sector is undertaken by smaller organisations and groups which do not have the capacity, capability or interest in undertaking impact evaluation. And even if they could be persuaded to do so, the cost of doing such work would undoubtedly be greater than the value of most of the grants they received. “ pg. 57

I understand not having capacity or capability, but no interest?! I wonder to what extent this is due  to a traditional view of evaluation (financial/economic) which necessarily wants to place value and effect in a determined strand of money. 

Evaluation is a learning tool! It can and should be used to assess the impact on your beneficiaries, learn form and with them what works well and what can be improved!

Funders here have a crucial role, and in my opinion, funders do need to change their “funding mindset” from strict financial impact. Considering the wider consequences of an intervention/project, the improvement or change made to the life of this person or group of people should be at the forefront of any funding. Sometimes success cannot be achieved during the time of a stream of funding, but during a considerable amount of time way beyond the funding boundary. An example easy to grasp comes from organisations dealing with poverty or mental health issues: if these were “quick” to be solved, we would not see so much of it still.

Unfortunately, I agree that evaluation is costly, and funding/funders should account for it. But I cannot agree with the cost being greater than the value of the grants. While this may be true on a strict monetary value, the value you get from learning from your beneficiaries about your work is surely high enough for evaluations to be considered an essential part of the work done, even considered as core cost and be funded for.






Independent Social Monitoring and Evaluation

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