Evaluate as you go along – you’ll get a clear picture of what is happening
Evaluation needs to be part of your project from the beginning, to help you set your aims and objectives and make the project happen.
If you leave evaluation to the end, you will not be able to collect the evidence before and during the event when the experience is still fresh. If you evaluate as you go along, you’ll get a clear picture of what is happening at each stage and can review progress and make any adjustments if you need to.
Aim for it
Funding applications will always ask for the aims and objectives of your event. If you set some clear points that you want to achieve, it will help to give your plans some focus and will give you some check points to keep you on track during the evaluation process.
Have a good look at what evidence is required on funders’ evaluation forms before the project so you know you are collecting the right information.
If you have applied for money from funders’ you may need to complete an evaluation of your project before you can claim any or part of your funds. It’s important to consider how you will evaluate your event at the initial planning stage to ensure it is an integral part of the project. There are three main questions you need to ask to create a good evaluation:
• What was successful about the event?
• What didn’t work so well?
• What could be improved if you run the event again?
These questions will help you to reflect on what happened and consider the best ways to the change the event if you were to do it again. You will also need to think about what you want to evaluate – this could include things like how many people attended and feedback received from the public during or after the event. In addition, you will probably want to consider how the event has impacted on the local community, whether it achieved its aims, if the event represented good value for money and if volunteers, participants and attendees valued the experience of taking part.
Make sure that the method you choose to collect information for your evaluation is clear and concise. You can do this with questionnaires at the actual event, or after the event with a free online survey at www.surveymonkey.com. Don’t forget that it is also important to collect the opinions of those who have also worked on the event – volunteers, artists, performers and members of the steering group etc.
Have a de-brief meeting where you can discuss any things still to be done, have a laugh and give praise and thanks where it’s due. Remember to talk through the good and bad points of the event too!