At the Big Lottery Fund our vision is that monitoring and evaluation is useful and inspires action. This means evaluation should be planned and conducted in ways that mean the findings and the evaluation process inform decisions, improve performance and generate valuable knowledge.
We believe evaluation can help us understand how and why we are making a difference and how lessons learnt can be incorporated into future plans. We also think it is important for our grant holders to reflect on what’s going well, what’s not going so well, and the difference the project has made so this learning can be used to inform the development of your work.
Monitoring involves the routine collection and recording of information about your project mainly for the purpose of checking its progress against its plans. Data collected through routine monitoring also sets the context for any evaluation our grants holders do.
Evaluation goes further and deeper than monitoring. Evaluation is the systematic assessment of the design, implementation or results of an initiative for the purposes of learning, improving or decision-making. It may capture the strengths and challenges of the project, and how it was delivered. It might also explore how and why certain outcomes were achieved (or not).
We have some key principles that we believe are important to consider when thinking about monitoring and evaluation. These include being:
- Proportionate. Ensuring that the information being collected to track progress and measure the difference being made is manageable, sensible and in proportion to the level of funding requested.
- Appropriate. Making sure that the type of data gathered from service users and when this happens is appropriate.
- Meaningful. Being clear that what is being collected is needed, why it is being collected, how it will be used, and any broader benefits it could provide. Will it enable you to track your progress and understand the difference you are making?
- Flexible. Ensuring that we work together with our grant holders to make sensible changes if something is not working.