Small organisations guidance - Review

Review

In order to get the best return on the time, effort and resources you invest in planning, evidencing and making sense of your impact, you will need to use your findings for their ultimate purpose – helping your organisation to improve.

‘Review’ looks at how you use your findings to get better at the way you plan, describe and deliver your work, as well as the way in which you embed your learning in order to get better at measuring the difference you make.

Whether or not you prepare a written report, you will need to think carefully about how you communicate your findings to promote your service and to spread your learning to the widest possible audience. This includes thinking about how you present your impact to funders, the public, as well as feeding back to the people who were involved in the impact measurement process. It also means thinking through how to communicate your findings clearly, honestly and transparently.

4.1 We are open about our findings and share the results within and beyond our organisation

This criterion looks at the way you share your findings with key people outside of your organisation, including funders, commissioners and the public. It also looks at the way you feedback your findings to the people involved in measuring your impact – including your staff, volunteers, and beneficiaries.

Having gathered and analysed your evidence, you will be ready to tell people about the difference that your work makes. Whether or not you choose to prepare a formal report, make sure that you communicate the findings widely. This could be through your annual report, your website or by talking at events or meetings.

Externally, presenting your findings to funders and commissioners will keep you accountable to the people who fund your work, and help to increase their understanding of how and why your work makes a difference. Communicating your findings to partner organisations and to the general public will also help to raise your profile and promote your work.

Internally, it is also important to feed back to the people involved in measuring your impact: your staff, volunteers, and if possible, your beneficiaries. Sharing your findings internally allows people to see the results of their data collection, and presenting evidence of successes can be rewarding and motivating. If you are able to feed back to beneficiaries, this can be a way of thanking people for their contribution to your organisation’s impact measurement process, and a way of demonstrating that the information they shared has been carefully considered and put to good use.

This criterion is fully met if:

You share your findings with key external stakeholders and everyone involved in gathering evidence of your impact, including staff and volunteers and, where possible, beneficiaries.

What next?

If you’ve met this criterion in full, you could improve your practice by…

  • Including your findings in all your key marketing and publicity documents
  • Including evidence of your impact in the materials you use to promote your service will help you communicate your findings to a wider audience.

4.2 We provide information about how our evidence was collected when we report our findings

Including details of how you gathered your data – your methodology – is an important part of communicating your findings in a way that is clear, transparent, and allows your audience to make judgements about the strength of your conclusions.

This involves talking about:

  • The tools you used to collect data, and how and when they were applied
  • Details of who took part (your sample) and how you decided this
  • The number and type of groups that you collected data from
  • How you asked people to participate (For example – did you invite people via email, put up posters in your local community centre, or ask everyone face to face?)
  • Whether or not you provided participants with an incentive. If you provided people with an incentive to participate, such as a voucher, you should include this in your description of how the data was collected.

It is not unusual in research for things to turn out differently from how they were planned. If you decided to change your data collection tools or if you had trouble getting back enough data, be honest and open about this in the way you present your findings. This also helps other organisations to learn about what works in terms of collecting evidence.

This criterion is fully met if:

When presenting your findings, you include details about how you collected your evidence, and who you collected it from, so that your audience can make judgements about the strength of your findings.

What next?

If you’ve met this criterion in full, you could improve your practice by…

  • Highlighting areas where more data is needed or where it’s not possible to draw a clear conclusion
  • Being open about where your findings are inconclusive, or where you don’t have enough data to be able to draw a solid conclusion about your impact will help your audience to understand which findings are most robust.

4.3 We use our findings to improve the way we deliver our work

Getting better at what you do, and improving the service that you offer to beneficiaries, is the ultimate goal of focusing on your impact. This could involve using your findings to make straightforward changes, such as amending your opening hours; or more complex ones, such as rolling out a new way of working.

Without reflecting and acting on what your findings mean for the way you deliver your work, you will leave the impact cycle unfinished, and the biggest area of learning untouched.

This criterion is fully met if:

You make changes to the way you deliver services, based on your findings.

What next?

If you’ve met this criterion in full, you could improve your practice by…

  • Using your findings to help you review, and to re-set, realistic and achievable targets
  • Once you have an understanding about which areas of your work make the most difference to beneficiaries, you may decide to adjust your output and outcome targets, and to set targets for future work that are realistic and achievable.
  • Costing future impact practice into funding bids. In order to build your impact practice, you may need to invest in things such as IT systems, database systems, training, and potentially external consultant support, for example. There are many funders who encourage applicants to include impact practice and evaluation costs in their funding applications.

Resources for this section

Feeding back your findings

ARVAC has a chapter in Getting Started dedicated to presenting and acting upon your research findings.

Putting the Code into Practice is an Inspiring Impact report containing examples of how other organisations have shared their findings.

Using your findings to improve the way you work

Support Guides from ESS to help voluntary organisations make the most of impact measurement. Support Guide 4.1, Using what you learn from evaluation, describes some useful ways of making the most of your impact measurement findings.

The UNDP’s Handbook on Monitoring and Evaluating for Results the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have also produced a general guide for using evaluation evidence.

Chapter 7 of, Knowledge and Learning: Use of Evaluative Evidence includes a checklist of what constitutes a good knowledge product and a checklist for improving evaluation feedback.

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