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Introduction to Charity Evaluation - Inspiring Scotland

Introduction to Charity Evaluation

Evaluation is a huge part of what we do at Inspiring Scotland. Evaluation sets out what difference you want to make and helps you to measure whether you are achieving your aims.

Here are Inspiring Scotland’s top tips for evaluation:

  1. Everyone embrace it – a culture of evaluation

Our first tip is that evaluation works best when everyone embraces it. From service delivery to your volunteers to your back-office staff, involving your team and those who use your service will help you think broadly and creatively about the impact you are making and the range of resources you can use to measure your impact.

  1. Write down what you do and why you do it

A theory of change is a useful way to set out on paper what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and what the impact of your work will be. It is your strategy or aim and a good starting point for working out what you should evaluate.

There is no standard template for theory of change, and you can keep it as a flexible tool where you can write down different possible routes of achieving your goal.

You can get help for how to work out your theory of change. See:

Once you have your theory of change, this is your starting point to look at how you are going to achieve your goal and what you want to measure. You may want to create a diagram to represent your theory of change. This can be called a logic model and should represent the activities of your service or project and your anticipated outcomes. You can also use a logic model to present how your work fits with aims of partners and funders.

  1. Understand your outcomes and think through what things would indicate you are having success

Outcomes are the results or difference you are working towards with the people you are supporting. Agree them with everyone involved in the project. They should say what the difference is, and for whom.

You will then need to think about what things you can record to measure progress towards these outcomes. Think about what things you and others would see, hear and be able to ask people using your project, that would indicate things have changed. There are likely to be many things, but be clever, restrict it to what you can reasonably ask and measure. These questions can be asked in a variety of ways, and will form the basis for how you evaluate your service

For ways to collect information, see Evaluation Support Scotland –

  1. Be clever with your time

We know that your time is precious. If you are doing innovative work, it is likely that you’ll need to spend a bit of time on evaluation research. If you are doing something which has already been tried or developed elsewhere then look at what research already exists to save you time. What interventions have been tried elsewhere? What results have been achieved? How did other projects evaluate their work?

  1. Ask for help

There are a huge amount of resources and organisations who can help with how you carry out your evaluation. Talk to other organisations and projects to hear what they do. Look at organisations who can offer support, for example Evaluation Support Scotland, have a wealth of information online and run regular events. And don’t forget to involve those who use your services for their thoughts on how to measure the difference you are making.

If you need further support from Inspiring Scotland with your evaluation, we’d love to help. Just get in touch via our contact page


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