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01 May 2022

5 Resources to help your first steps into Evaluation

We evaluate all our own festivals, programmes and events using the Audience Agency survey for demographic data collection alongside Impact and Insights for qualitative data measured against Arts Council England’s quality metric system.

There’s a wealth of ways to capture data from formal surveys to focus groups. You can even use creative games at events to capture data too.

Having supported many organisations on evaluation – from developing outcome frameworks, collecting data on the ground and reporting findings – we have an insight into the challenges faced by a variety of organisations. Here we’ve prepared a list of articles that will help your develop your own evaluation frameworks.

Such open resources for the arts and heritage sector are extremely useful, and they are a helpful reminder (especially for small to medium sized organisations) for two reasons: First, that there is help and support out there and some of it is available at little or no cost, and second that a wealth of impact data already exists for you to use in evaluations, which means less pressure on your own data collection activities.

Below, are 5 go-to-resources that we will help you on your evaluation journey:

1) Good Finance Outcomes Matrix – We use this tool to kick-start discussions with clients when preparing evaluation frameworks and fundraising bids. If you need inspiration for the outcomes you want to achieve, then use this tool as a starting point. Read more

2) Inspiring Impact Data Diagnostic – Hosting self-assessment tools and peer learning networks for your evaluation needs, Inspiring Impact asks 10 simple questions about the projects you seek to evaluate, who accesses your support, and how you engage with them. Once completed, you receive a report listing recommended data collection tools to use. Read more

3) Measuring wellbeing – Key arts and heritage funders, such as the National Lottery Heritage Fund, are more and more placing greater emphasis on wellbeing outcomes, so it is useful to know what things you can measure to evidence your impact and the data that already exists. What Works Wellbeing published an evidence review on heritage and wellbeing, which is a useful guide to understand the impacts on physical, mental and social wellbeing of individuals and communities. Read more

4) Thriving Places Index – This resource presents complex data around sustainability, local conditions and equality in your local authority area into a simple ‘scorecard’. For many, it might just be a fascinating insight into the ‘big data’ that sits behind it, but it is useful to compare different local authority areas and understand some of the broader issues facing your local community that need to be addressed. Read more

5) New Philanthropy Capital’s guide to creating a theory of change – For those looking for a holistic approach to measurement and evaluation, NPC’s ‘four pillar approach’ provides a step-by-step guide to take you through the process. Using a theory of change can be helpful for all areas of your work – from strategy, programme planning and even fundraising. Read more

A group of women sit at a desk watching some give a presentation.

Image: Pete Martin Phorography