Interesting research from Heritage Lottery Fund about what makes a good evaluation report.
“Just over a third, 37%, of reports were graded as good or excellent, while 64% where judged to be adequate or poor.”
In summary, they are asking for evaluation reports to do more than just record project history and achievements. They are also looking for an objective approach which identifies challenges and lessons for the future. They also emphasise the need for evaluations to start early, engage experts and include enough detail to properly explore and evidence project successes and areas where things could be improved.
“Judging by the quality of the reports, organisations are generally aware of the need to count the activity that they have undertaken but their understanding of the wider rationale and value of undertaking more enhanced evaluation activities is very mixed.”
Reflecting on this, I think the need to share evaluation reports with future funders or supporters inevitably leads organisations to dwell on the positives, perhaps more than they should. HLF are clearly challenging their grantees to be a little more reflective and honest in their reports and to share more information about project weaknesses or lessons learnt.
I am really pleased with my participative evaluation of the Peregrini Lindisfarne Landscape Partnership Scheme. Although I have only got involved towards the end of the project, I am using social media to engage with volunteers, partners and visitors. The evaluation blog provides a transparent record of the evaluation process and enables stakeholders to participate in this. This will provide a lasting online scrapbook of the evaluation process and feedback, which will inform the final evaluation report. Take a look at the blog here.