Tom Scott is the Training Officer at Evaluation Support Scotland (ESS), a charity committed to working with voluntary organisations and funders so that they can measure and report on their impact. Evaluation Support Scotland (ESS) is one of the partners involved and leads on Inspiring Impact Scotland.
‘The difference between the 2008 report’s outcome evidence and that shown in the 2009 report is simply outstanding.’
This was the conclusion from Maureen McGinn, Chair of the Scotland Committee of the BIG Lottery Fund when summing up her thoughts about a report from Dundee Youthlink. This organisation’s journey from not knowing where to begin and really struggling with evaluation, to being an inspiring champion of good impact practice by way of support from ESS and their Funder, Laidlaw Youth Trust, is presented as one of the case studies in Inspiring Impact: A Good Practice Case Study Report – What good impact measurement looks like. Case studies of the experiences of Includem and Health and Social Care Alliance are also featured in the report. They highlight the importance of innovative approaches, integrating evaluation into everyday practice, and learning from the results to improve service delivery and client experience.
The groups focused on in these case studies, like most organisations in the voluntary sector, face on-going evaluation challenges—but the case for good impact practice is certainly being made. Pamela from Includem reflects that, ’at the start it can seem like its more effort than it’s worth’, which is a common experience. But she goes on to say that ‘the benefits [of good impact practice] are cyclical rather than linear’. So if we are to answer the key questions laid out in Are you leading for impact? Five questions for voluntary sector leaders then we must share examples of what good impact practice looks like and learn from each other’s experience.
Purposeful learning is a key theme across these case studies, but another is action. While evaluation can initially seem overwhelming one of the best things you can do is get started. As the lead partner for Inspiring Impact in Scotland, contributing to the confidence of voluntary organisations, funders and other stakeholders to start the process of improving impact measurement is a key goal for ESS. The organisations in these case studies have shown that together we can share, learn and improve.