Renew Wales was set up by a group of community practitioners to help 200 community groups tackle the causes and impacts of climate change through advice, training, mentoring and technical support from other experienced Community Practitioners. The support is delivered peer to peer by people who have already delivered projects in their communities. The initiative wanted help to demonstrate the impact of the approach as well as generating learning on how to continually improve.
What we did
We developed a self-evaluation support process for the programme. At the start of the project we held an evaluation framework workshop with the steering group, which identified what the project outcomes should be (both the indicators for funders and the ‘real’ programme indicators) and who we were trying to influence and the standards of evidence needed.
We knew we were working with a diverse range of coordinators (30 in total) who would have different skills; similarly, they would be working with different types of groups. So, we developed a suite of tools that coordinators and groups could choose the tool that would work best within their available resources.
We are also building the capacity of the groups to understand monitoring and evaluation and the role it plays in successful funding. The sessions are participatory and support the groups that attend to think through their project and what evidence they need to demonstrate impact. We combine the sessions with information on alternative funding models.
Part of the organisational capacity tool that we have developed asks groups to assess their existing skills and capacity to deliver successful projects. It then requires the group to consider actions to improve.
To support the coordinators we also run training sessions – the tools are easy to use so the sessions focus on why they are needed; winning hearts and minds helping participants understand why it is useful to take the time to do evaluation. In addition, we offer telephone and email support to any coordinator wanting advice on the use of tools.
Impact of our work
We used a supported self-evaluation approach to make sure we left a legacy for Renew Wales. By the end of two years the coordinators and groups they supported were better equipped to collect data and demonstrate the impact of their work. Our approach was welcomed by the client and the supported community groups, providing them with useful, manageable evaluation processes, which they have continued to use.