More often these days small organisations are being challenged to ‘prove it’ when it comes to the results that they say they have achieved. Many can’t and some won’t.
For decades now larger social impact organisations have been developing and embedding monitoring and evaluation into their structures, systems and processes. This is especially true of international development organisations. However, remarkably this wealth of experience, information, toolkits and tools have not transitioned into smaller, UK-focused community organisations. Most don’t even know such wealth exists (there is also a resistance against anything international development linked as not being appropriate to the UK context – but that’s a whole other story…).
True, small community-based organisations don’t have the capacity to take on complicated and extensive M&E systems. But then they probably don’t have to. Here are a few tips for small or local organisations on how to get started with M&E:
- Start small: Don’t try and measure everything. You probably only need to measure a handful (between 6 and 10) of indicators about your work and organisation.
- Figure out what you do to advance your mission: You probably already have a mission statement. Do you know which of your work helps you to advance your mission? Sounds like a dumb question, but often organisations do stuff because they’ve always done it, not because it fulfils the mission. You can figure this out by asking service users, beneficiaries, trustees, volunteers and staff (if you have them) what they think based on their experience of the organisation.
- Measure only that which advances your mission: Once you’ve figured out what the essential things are that help you to advance your mission, think about how you will know that you’re making progress in each of those areas: an increase in users? a decrease in users? Beneficiaries reporting improvements to you? Think about what constitutes an improvement or an advance – is it a percentage increase from one year to the next? Is it more people accessing your services? Is it more people reporting a key change in their lifestyles? This is an indicator of change.
This is just the start of course. We can go on and talk about Theory of Change, logical frameworks and all sorts, but for now remember just this one thing:
Would you benefit from a workshop about some of these concepts? Do you want to know more about Theory of Change for example? Later this year I hope to announce a range of workshops to support organisations just like yours to get to grips with monitoring and evaluation.
Let me know if you want more information!