Collecting information about how people think and feel can be a good way to get feedback about your activities and the difference they have made.
Story telling: you might talk to individuals who have benefited from Big Local activities and projects and who have indicated that they are happy to share their experience.
Case studies: a case study might draw on a range of different people’s and different groups’ experiences to draw them together and create a more in-depth ‘story’. Here are resources on how to write a case study and how to produce a film case study.
Suggestion boxes: creating a suggestion box and keeping track of the suggestions made can help you to reflect on changes, and/or possibilities for future changes to improve things or work you are doing.
Group discussion/focus groups: are a good way of getting people together to discuss their own personal experience or comment on a particular topic. These might be especially useful when bringing the partnership members together to discuss the progress they have made. Here is a guide on how to run a focus group.
Rating activities and progress: collecting feedback on the progress of activities can be fun and easy. There are different methods you can use, with some partnerships rating the progress of their activities using a Red Amber Green (RAG) template, or a Boston Matrix template. You can then compare progress across activities over time.
Vox pops: are short and quick interviews which are filmed and used to gather opinions or comments from people on an issue or topic. Here is a guide on how to film a vox pop.
Films: can be a very useful evaluation tool that can capture events, engage people with your plan, or show how people’s attitudes and feelings toward your Big Local area have changed. Find out more about multimedia evaluation with Our Bigger Story, and see films from Big Local areas as part of the evaluation of Big Local.
You can collect your own data or use information that already exists. Once you know what you want to collect, you can find out where to get it or how you can collect it yourself.
Attendance: counting the number of people who have benefitted from Big Local activities can be really valuable. You can collect information about different things, for example the number of people who attended an event, activity or used a service. You can also compare information across events or years to see changes.
Surveys/questionnaires: are a good way of collecting the same information from people, and you can do this in different ways (online, in person or by phone). Information on surveys/questionnaires.
Collecting personal data: if you are collecting personal data it is important that you collect and manage this information carefully.
It is unlikely you will be able to collect all of your own information, so using existing data can save you lots of time. It can help to reveal the wider context in which your Big Local area is happening. Open data is free and gives access to wide range of data on a variety of issues.
Getting help with your plan review will depend on what you need and want to do. However, it will be difficult for one person to review your activities and the difference they have made, so involving other people is key.
You can ask people and organisations you work with to collect information. Community researchers can carry out research for you. You can also get someone to coordinate a review of all of your activities to tell you how they are doing.
You can collect information about your activities from the people and organisations that you work with. Getting them to collect information on participants, service use, attendees etc., can save you time, increase their own skills and also help them to monitor their own impact.
Community research is a collaborative and empowering approach to research where community members and groups set the agenda and are involved as researchers. Here are examples from Big Local areas training community researchers in Whitley and West End, Morecambe. You could also conduct community research with a university.
For more information, here is a resource from ARVAC on how to carry out community research.
Now that you have gathered your information and evidence, you might think about how to present and communicate it to others. They can be a fun way to engage others in your work and to promote what you do. There are different ways you can do this, for example through writing a report, blogs, infographics, posters and podcasts.
Watch this example of an animated illustration from Lawrence Weston.
Here are some other creative ways to communicate your findings.
NCVO- Know How, non-profit – free, online resources and “how to” guides and information on a range of topics
The Outcomes Toolkit– free resource for community members, groups and organisations on measuring impact
Inspiring impact – an online resource for measuring impact
NCVO– how to write an evaluation report, including considering your audience and how to structure your report.
Don’t forget that you can also contact the research team at Local Trust for any support or queries you may have about measuring your impact. We will also be updating these resources on an ongoing basis.