As a requirement of donating, some funders will ask for demonstrable ways in which your project has been beneficial to the community. They are, in other words, looking for a return on their investment.
It is therefore important to measure the social impact of your project. Not only will it show funders how their money has been spent, evaluation will also show you if your long term plans are still viable and if any changes need to be made.
This process of monitoring your project’s impact should aim to include all stakeholders and identify what benefits each have gained from the project.
Of course, how you monitor and what you monitor will depend on the type of project but here we will give some general pointers to put you on the right path.
Who to involve
Ideally you will involve every stakeholder but the key ones to include are:
Each group will draw their own set of benefits from the project and these will likely be laid out early in the project’s life when you are consulting. At the consultation stage it would be advised to conduct a ‘baseline’ survey so that you have something to compare your evaluation results to.
What to monitor
There are a number of aspects that can be evaluated throughout the project. These fall into four categories:
Whilst inputs, processes and outputs can be measured, it is normally the outcomes which are of most use to evaluate. This is where you will see the impact your project has had on the local area.
The way you evaluate the outcomes of the project will most likely be through survey, questionnaire and interview. As mentioned above, it is advantageous to have conducted earlier surveys so as to have a basis of comparison.
Funding organisations may well want to conduct their own evaluation which might include site visits and interviews with other stakeholders and authorities. Again, this will tie-in to the organisation’s reasons for funding the project in the first place i.e. they want to be able to show they have been involved in positive change in a community.
This is a very simple outline of monitoring. For a much more detailed look at how to evaluate the social impact of your project, please take a look at the Monitoring in-depth page.
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This information is intended as a guide and, while it is as accurate and up to date as we can make it, it should not be used in place of specialist legal, financial or commercial advice.