Monitoring and Evaluating of Your Project
If your project has grant funding you will likely have of data and information gathering specified by the organisation funding you. However, you also will want to understand the impact and effectiveness of your programme on your Peer Supporters and people using your service. Positively UK has produced a comprehensive tool designed to provide evidence of the value of peer support. The tool is available here and staff at Positively UK are keen to engage with you to build a picture nationally how peer support impacts on the lives of people living with HIV.
Evaluation can feel burdensome.
It is yet another activity to find resource to complete and can feel like it is taking up the time that you need to effectively run your project. In addition, evaluation is hard to gather, especially if you are relying on you Peer Support volunteers to gather it for you. It is not for lack of will, but often evaluation will be forgotten as for the Peer Supporter, the priority is to help other people living through similar experience – not tick boxes and fill in forms. Therefore, making sure that you note any piece of feedback or comments that you hear about your project from your Peer Supporters, people they are supporting or other people who observe the work you are doing is really important. It is also important to make sure you count! Note every meeting and group that takes place including the numbers of people attending so that you are gathering both qualitative and quantitative data about your project. Avoid asking for detailed feedback too often as it undermines the quality of the information you are gathering.
Tips for monitoring and evaluating your project:
You know your project best
Do not be afraid to discuss the reporting and information gathering mechanisms with funders during the lifetime of your project and make changes.
Don’t over evaluate
Only gather the information you need. Better to have less good quality information rather lots of meaningless data, that you have to manage. Gather one-off and incidental information and feedback so that you build a picture of your project from the point of view of a range of stakeholders. If someone tells you that they have been told your project has had a positive impact, note it down and date it.
Be creative in your evaluation techniques
Does it always have to be a form? Can you gather images/pictures that demonstrate what you are doing? Can you use audio or video to record information?
Make sure you count everything you can
Numbers of participants, numbers of groups, numbers of interactions etc.
Set up a system for recording data and feedback systematically
Avoid getting to end of year report or grant application deadlines and scrabbling around to find information you need in piles of evaluation forms or data in several different spreadsheets.