Is Monitoring & Evaluation as hard as you think?
Like many things in life there are times when things seem too complicated but the reality is that they are not. Monitoring and evaluation is one of those things that not-for-profits view with dread. Perhaps there are too many syllables for something that is simple and useful.
This is counting what you do.
You count the amounts: how many people do your see? where do they live? how many sessions with lots of people do you put on? how old were the people you saw? This is quantitative information.
Next you gather the qualitative information about your services: what did people think about what you did (good, satisfied, ok, dissatisfied, terrible)? how do they feel after you have worked with them?
This is taking this information and using it to find out if you are doing what you said you were going to do, how well you are doing it.
Monitoring and evaluation is not about finding fault with people or making them feel bad. It is about keeping track of what you have done for yourselves as a management tool and for possibly for your funders to show that you are delivering what you said you would. It is also provides information for funding applications and annual reports as you can show how good you are and finally to keep your staff informed – ‘hey look at all the great things we have done!’.
Plan Your Monitoring
Think about what it is you need to count and how you can count it:
Quantitative examples could be; we are delivering across Walsall – if we collect postcodes then we will know we are reaching all the areas we should; we are offering support to those adults with mental health problems – we will collect ages, genders, ethnicity to see that we are reaching as wide a range of people as we should; we need to reach 350 people in a year – we will count numbers and look at them once a fortnight to see that we are on target (7 per week).
Qualitative examples could be; we must have 80% of people who have seen us as being satisfied or better with our help – we ask people if they feel good, satisfied, okay, dissatisfied, terrible about us; we must have 60% of people say they are feeling less stressed – we ask if they compare how stressed they were before do they feel worse, the same or better.
You can get the information from questionnaires, talking to people, putting dots onto a chart. The simpler the better as people appreciate this. If you can make it fun then all the better. Some feedback we can get by observation and we do not have to ask as we can see they feel more confident and interact more with others. Remember, it does not have to be complicated.
When designing your monitoring remember to talk to everyone, your staff, volunteers and clients. They will have good ideas about what and how information needs collecting. And they are the ones who are going to be involved.
Once you have collected your information then ask questions of it.
Look at what you had planned with your outputs (services) and outcomes (the difference you wanted to make).
Don’t forget to talk to your staff and volunteers about:
- what did they think about the last six months (for example),
- what could be done better?
- what are the problems they found the most difficult?
Once this process is complete you will have information that;
- will help you plan,
- can be used for publicity,
- can impress future funders,
- motivate staff and volunteers.
What’s not to love about that?
Monitoring and evaluation will take time but is definitely not a waste of time.