We understand that monitoring and evaluation (M&E) can sometimes feel daunting and time consuming. Many LTOs in the StreetGames network have told us that they find it challenging to know what to collect, how to go about it or what tools they can use, or struggle in terms of having enough capacity or buy-in.
Although there is no single, ‘magic’ best way of doing things, there are a number of tips and tools that can help. We’ve packaged some of these together to create what we are calling the M&E ‘Kit-bag’, to help LTOs undertake M&E and demonstrate the impact of their work.
- General information and guidance
- Access to StreetGames templates and resources
- Sign-posting to advice and tools from other organisations.
There will also be opportunities to:
- Join Communities of Learning and participate in celebration events
- Take part in StreetGames coordinated and funded academic evaluations and action research projects
- Access tailored advice and support from a member of the StreetGames Regional Team or our central Research & Insight Team.
The information included within the M&E Kit-bag is not designed to be exhaustive and we are not suggesting that you must use some or all of these resources. It is important that the M&E you undertake is ‘right’ for your project and the communities you serve – but we hope that some of the information and resources provided will help you in this area of work.
Why is Monitoring & Evaluation Important?
Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) is an essential part of good project management:
- It helps to provide feedback and shout about and celebrate progress with everyone involved
- It helps to capture learning, identify good practice and support continuous improvement
- It helps to show the value and impact of your project to partners, the wider community, funders and others
- It is a key component for supporting sustainability as it can strengthen your case for continued, new and/or increased levels of funding.
It is also important for reviewing progress internally and helping to shape future offers by identifying:
- Which activities and sessions are working well
- Where changes / improvements may be needed
- Gaps in provision.
If you are thinking of using surveys, you might want to look at existing ‘Question Banks’. These share pre-existing survey questions from national population surveys, many of which are ‘validated’ and act as ‘markers’ for key outcomes such as: subjective well-being, physical activity, resilience, belonging, trust and loneliness.
This means you don’t always have to make up your survey questions from scratch and you can use these questions in the knowledge that they’ve already been tried and tested many times by research experts and will enable you to compare your results against national data. Some example question banks include those provided by the What Works Well-being Centre, Sport England or State of Life.
The Sport for Development Coalition has created a Collective Survey Tool which brings together key ‘marker’ questions in one short on-line survey that is suitable for use with participants and volunteers aged 14+ attending sport and physical activity sessions/sport for development initiatives. The survey can be deployed via tablets, mobile phones or paper survey in sessions or it can be sent out via an online link with results presenting live on a dashboard. Through multiple organisations using the same questions within this tool, it has the added benefit that the common dataset can be used to contribute towards increased understanding and evidence of the overall impact of the sport for development sector.
Measuring and Supporting Individual Change
There are also tools which can help to support and measure an individual’s progress, such as Outcomes Star. The Outcomes Star is designed to both measure distance-travelled AND support the process of change. There are over 30 different versions of the Star, each tailored to a different sector. For example, the Youth Outcomes Star enables progress/‘distance travelled’ to be measured on a scale of 1-5, on a range of aspects including education and work, making a difference, hopes and dreams, choices and behaviour, well-being and communication.
These are by no means all of the M&E tools that exist. If you’ve used a different tool and found it helpful, please do let us know so we can share with other LTOs in the Network.
6. Make maximum use of the M&E data and information you collect and share this with colleagues and partners.
Don’t just think about M&E data as something you have to collect and submit to a funder. For example, if you are capturing participant and attendance data, think about what the data is telling you: does it show that your sessions are successfully attracting an audience from a specific local area or a group who are typically under-represented in sport? Is a certain sport proving to be really popular? Is one location much more popular than another? Has there been very little ‘drop-out’ and participants being retained over many months/years?
Also think about how you can present your M&E data for maximum impact, e.g. through maps, illustrations, infographics. You may find the examples and tips below helpful:
7. It’s not all about numbers.
Data can provide very useful information and show trends, but it will not explain why. Data alone will not identify why something is working well or not so well. That is why it is really important to try to understand the stories behind the data.
8. Consider the different ways that you can build your project ‘story’.
Use data to describe the ‘who, what, where, when’ – but also supplement this with:
Discussions or interviews with project staff, participants, volunteers and partners to find out what has happened, what worked well, and what has been learnt
Individual ‘pen portrait’ case studies that perhaps describe the progress of an individual participant, volunteer, leader or coach
Other sources of information, such as data from partners, press or local political interest.
You can use the tips and templates below to support you with this:
How to capture information
Wider information can be captured through structured interviews, surveys or focus groups, but also it can be captured through informal conversations or fun facilitation activities – which could be led by project staff or young volunteers.
StreetGames has a range of templates (e.g. questionnaires, interview guides, journal & video prompts) which you can access to help you build your project story:
9. For some projects and participants, using more creative methods for your M&E data collection may be more appealing.
You could consider using methods such as videos and photos, art activities, fun games, social media feedback or diaries to engage participants.
If you do decide to use creative methods, information provided by Inspiring Impact may help. It provides helpful advice and circa 20 different ideas on creative ways you can capture impact via creative method cards.
Using more creative methods can also be a really good way of getting participants more involved in the M&E process – perhaps acting as Peer Researchers. StreetGames has created a short Youth Voice Toolkit, which provides lots of different activities that can help gather views, opinions and feedback.
Using creative methods may not be easier or quicker – so it is important to build in enough time to analyse the information you get back, or perhaps consider partnering with a local university or college.
10. Ensure you are aware of regulations & guidelines that relate to data protection and parental consent requirements.
Act accordingly to ensure sensitive personal information is kept safe and secure to prevent anyone’s data (particularly young people’s) from being exposed to the wrong person.
Many organisations will have their own policies and guides in relation to data protection – but if you need some initial information, we’ve created a one-page sheet which summarises useful information and ‘need to knows’ for community organisations.
If you’d like further information on the topic of monitoring and evaluation, NPC have provided lots of helpful advice and information to support organisations to measure, understand and improve their impact: Starting to measure your impact – Charity Experts (thinknpc.org)