Have you and your colleagues ever found yourselves asking:
- How do we know if what we are doing is achieving anything?
- What do our service users think?
- Is there anything we could be doing differently?
- How can we show funders their investment is bringing about change?
The answers to the above questions can be found in evaluation. Evaluation is the process of measuring impact. In its simplest terms, evaluation is a measurement of worth against a defined set of standards.
I have over 25 years expertise in conducting evaluations. While quantitative approaches are important in evaluation processes, I have a keen interest in seeing “beyond the statistics” and in particular, capturing and measuring the social impact and unanticipated outcomes generated by a project or programme, through creative qualitative research methods. I have completed a wide range of both short and long term evaluations for clients across the voluntary and community sector. I hold numerous Management and Development qualifications, which have included evaluation as core modules, and I am a qualified and accredited Social Auditor through the NIOCN (Northern Ireland Open College Network).
My overall aim in evaluation is to produce honest and constructive reports that really help to guide improvements and promote genuine organisational learning. I strongly believe in robust consultation with all stakeholders and have delivered consultations with a broad range of groups including, young people, older people, people with disabilities etc.
I believe evaluation should be a progressive learning process, not a tick box event. I will work closely with you to plan and design a comprehensive yet creative methodology, conduct the research and provide you with an evaluation report, which will detail a thorough analysis of findings.
I can also provide evaluation support in the initial stages of a project’s establishment by working with you to design and implement an evaluation framework, which will ensure evaluation is fully embedded into all activities.
Some examples of my work
Focus on ability not disability
I recently had the wonderful opportunity to evaluate a project working with young people with learning disabilities and special education needs. The project provides real and meaningful learning and employment experiences, to enhance and develop self-confidence, skills and talents. I worked closely with staff to design a creative methodology to measure impact and progress. The methodology had, at it’s heart, meaningful, robust consultation with service users. Intent on ensuring all service users could have their say, I developed a range of creative and inclusive evaluation tools which included, focus groups, questionnaires, case studies, interviews and a creative, distance travelled art project.
Boardroom Apprentice Programme
I have been the external evaluator for the hugely successful Boardroom Apprentice Programme since 2019. Founded in 2016 by Eileen Mullan, The Boardrooom Apprentice Programme is a 12-month unique learning, development and placement programme which enables those who would like to serve on a public or third sector board to learn and gain experience in a safe way. The overarching aim of the Boardroom Apprentice Programme is: To move the Board Member role from aspiration to reality.
Evaluation takes place each year with each new cohort and the evaluation framework is both quantitative and qualitative and seeks to capture the increase in knowledge and learning among Apprentices as a result of participating in the Learning and Development Programme. The evaluation also seeks to capture the increase in confidence and motivation to apply for a Board position. Long term impact, including engagement with Boards after the programme is captured through an impact tracker and follow evaluation “What Boardroom Apprentices did next” which is conducted with each cohort twelve months after they complete the programme.