Posts Tagged ‘Evaluation’
v has always been about pushing boundaries, trying new approaches and injecting creativity wherever and whenever we can. This is particularly true of our approach to evaluation.
We wanted to buck the trend of ‘post-mortem’ evaluation and heed the advice of experts, such as those at New Philanthropy Capital who advocate that “charities need to improve the way they measure, demonstrate and communicate impact”.
In the absence of a central approach to measurement and evaluation, v’s preference was for a model that would enable us to learn from our programmes, whilst they were still active, and make changes to improve the experience of our funded network and the young people they engage.
As an organisation committed to evaluation and learning v has applied insights from previous grants rounds into practical improvements for our most recently funded organisations, but by choosing a formative approach, we have gone one step further, providing the organisation with a rigorous and independent evaluation.
The interim findings of this process were launched this week, Formative Evaluation of v, The National Young Volunteers’ Service.
Overall the evaluation shows that v and its funded network are achieving notable outcomes, for example exceeding the targets set for it for the number of youth volunteering opportunities and supporting a positive force for change in the youth sector (p54). More significantly it identifies that we have engaged some of the hardest to reach young people. “There is strong evidence”, the report concludes, “that v funded volunteering engaged a “greater diversity and more socially excluded young people than is normally the case” (p1).
While there are successes to celebrate, the evaluation also indicates areas for improvement for v, its funded network and government.
v is taking forward the recommendations and has created an action plan to tackle the implications raised by the Evaluation report and we are committed to continuing to raise the bar in the provision of youth volunteering.
There is also learning within the report for our funded network, for the wider sector and for government and we hope they share our zeal for improvement. The detailed impact of v and its network (2008-2011) will be reflected in the final report in June 2011. We have a unique opportunity to take stock of what we have collectively achieved thus far and make every effort to deliver more.
Terry Ryall, v’s Chief Executive, commented “I’m naturally delighted by all the positive findings of what v has and its partners have achieved in just four year. But I’m equally excited about the areas of improvement for v and the voluntary sector, as we take these forward for an even better future for all.”
As part of v’s on-going evaluation the Institute of Volunteering Research has reviewed recent developments in youth volunteering, ‘ Young people, volunteering, and youth projects: A rapid review of recent evidence‘. The three staged review looks at: the evidence base for young people, including their attitudes to and participation in volunteering; specific types of volunteering initiatives in the UK and beyond; and finally it summaries the key developments in the literature since the last comprehensive review in 2004 (Gaskin, 2004a).
This latest insightful report demonstrates the continued research interest in exploring young people’s participation in and understanding of volunteering. It is re-assuring to see this report conclude there has been a strong increase in direct consultation with young people since 2004 about their attitudes to volunteering. Understanding and considering the views, wishes, and opinions of young people must be central to improving and developing youth volunteering. Research highlights that young people are far from being a homogeneous group and that demographic characteristics affect the participation rates and the nature of volunteering undertaken. Direct consultation with a diverse range of young people, through research, will enable us to better design volunteering initiatives and ensure their voices don’t get lost in the important policy debates about youth volunteering and civic service. v’s research on full time volunteering, Young People Speak Out (2009) is a good example of this.
However, as pointed out in this latest review, gaps still remain in the research, particularly the lack of evidence around the long term impacts of volunteering. Within the current economic context, and rising levels of youth unemployment, there is a need to better understand one particular key long term impact; the link between volunteering and employability. This report shows that a focus on employability as a benefit of volunteering is particularly prevalent for the young. While evidence of the impact of volunteering on employment rates is mixed, young people perceive volunteering as enhancing their employability (Hirst, 2001) and v’s research with employers (2008) shows that employers value volunteering experience for improving work related skills such as communication, leadership, team work, and self-confidence.
v is committed to understanding not just this link between volunteering and employability, but to gaining a full picture of the long term benefits of volunteering. We have recently tendered for a new research project – a scoping study to understand how to measure the impacts of volunteering on young people using longitudinal research. Through the scoping study we will be reviewing existing research and working with a range of key stakeholders to develop a best practice model for longitudinal research in this area. We aim to use the scoping study results to invite future investment in a longitudinal study to open up this much needed area of research.
We look forward to sharing these results with you in the autumn. If you are interested in this longitudinal research we’d like to hear from you.
Happy New Year! We’ve been a bit quiet on the evaluation blog recently because we’ve been head down writing our first annual evaluation report. It’s proving a challenge to analyse everything we’ve learned over the past 12 months, but plenty of interesting and useful themes are emerging.
We are aiming to publish the report in the Spring. We’re conscious that a hefty 100-page report might seem a bit impenetrable for some so we’re looking at alternative formats. If you have any suggestions on a format that would work for you, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I should add that the evaluation continues and we always need your views. We’re out and about talking to v funded projects again, so if you’re asked to take part please consider it. We’re especially keen to hear from you if you’re a young volunteer.
And thanks to everyone who has provided feedback so far – keep it coming!
All the best
This is our first proper progress report about the evaluation via our blog. The good news is that we’ve gathered quite a lot of information about v already from our first round of grant recipient surveys, case studies and consultation with a wide range of government, volunteering and youth sector stakeholders. We’re also pulling together data about v’s marketing communications activity and have been speaking to young people about their attitudes towards volunteering and their awareness of v through our omnibus surveys. We are now in the process of analysing that information and will be reporting on it, along with recent national data on youth volunteering, in March 2010.
We are now recruiting the next round of case studies so, if you get a call, it would be brilliant if you’d say yes to working with us! Saying yes would mean taking part in an interview at a time convenient to you and possibly helping us find other people in your organisation that we can speak to.
We are also looking for young researchers to work with us on the in-depth case studies. Do you know of anyone who might fit the bill? The full job description is on the NatCen website at http://www.natcen.ac.uk/job/sessional-peer-social-researcher Please pass it on to any young people you know who might be interested.
That’s all for now. Again, if you have any questions or suggestions about things we can tell you, please send an email to email@example.com.
Over the next few weeks we’ll post up details about each strand of the evaluation. It runs from December 2008 to March 2011 and will include:
• Interviews with grant recipients: Many of you will already have been contacted by us to take part.
• Interviews with young people: A telephone omnibus is already underway, we’re talking to 600 young people a year.
• Young people as researchers: We’re training young people to undertake our research for us and help us decide what to do and how to do it.
• Volunteering statistics: Looking at why young people volunteer or not and which groups do it most using info given to v by funded projects.
• Interviews with other people: We’re talking to people who are interested in youth volunteering, e.g. Government and the public sector, companies that support volunteering, the voluntary and youth working sectors.
• Marketing communications: We’re exploring how v communicates, and how effective it is at raising awareness of volunteering, removing barriers and encouraging young people to take up volunteering opportunities.
• Return on investment: We’re exploring the cost of reaching volunteers in different ways and the potential savings to society that v has delivered through volunteering.
We’re also going to uploads tools and resources to help you evaluate yourselves; like, for instance, the Institute of Volunteering’s evaluation toolkit and the Citizenship Survey which has some useful statistics about volunteering. Watch this space!
Welcome to the v evaluation blog. We’ll regularly update this to keep you informed about the external evaluation while a dedicated evaluation section of vinspired.com is prepared for launch later in the year.
When we met some of you at the v National Conference in the summer, you told us that you wanted to learn more about what the external evaluators are doing, how you can contribute to the evaluation if you want to, any best practice that we can give you so that you can evaluate your own work more effectively and any insights that we’re picking up along the way.
So, over the coming weeks, we’ll aim to do just that through this blog. If you have any questions please post them here and we will try to answer them as best we can.
We’re a team of social research and communication experts (ten of us in all) from the National Centre for Social Research, the Institute for Volunteering Research, Southampton and Birmingham Universities and Public Zone. We’re working together on different strands of the evaluation that will eventually come together to create an overall picture of v. Let us know if you want us to post up our biogs. We’ve also got an email address if people want to contact us direct: firstname.lastname@example.org
Speak to you soon, Amanda