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Who we've worked with

NCVO Charities Evaluation Services is a leading evaluation consultancy for the voluntary sector. Over the last 25 years we have worked with tens of thousands of voluntary organisations and their funders and commissioners, these include:

Impact planning and theory of change

Supporting outcome and impact measurement

Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) works with people with sight loss in the UK. They work in alliance with Visionary, the membership organisation for local sight loss charities.

TPT noticed that many sight loss services were seeking to improve their self-evaluation. In 2015, they commissioned NCVO CES to support the development of outcome and impact measurement in sight loss services around the country.

Over a year, we worked with TPT and Visionary to deliver courses, along with in-depth support for ‘Outcome Champions’. Training was well received and respondents reported increased confidence in outcomes evaluation. Alexa Sage, development and innovation manager at Visionary, said:

It’s been fantastic to see such a high level of engagement from across the sector, bringing local authority workers together with the voluntary sector and being able to think about sharing learning and results. Involving everyone from CEOs and managers to frontline staff from large national or regional organisations and small local charities has helped us to develop resources and methods that cater to different capacities. In particular we’ve noticed smaller organisations with fewer resources to dedicate to outcome measurement beginning to embed good practice forms of outcome measurement as part of their everyday work.

Alexa Sage, development and innovation manager at Visionary

Improving data collection

The Bank Workers’ Charity (BWC) supports current and former bank employees and their families. NCVO CES worked with BWC from 2014 – 2016, improving their internal data collection. We worked with staff to develop a theory of change and evaluation framework, and helped BWC improve data collection systems. Sarah Crombie, BWC’s director of client services, described how she found working with us:

[Our consultant] was excellent throughout the whole process and took time to listen and understand our requirements. We are a complex organisation with a wide remit, so the solution had to take into consideration numerous issues. [Our consultant] delivered this extremely well.... Excellent experience.

Sarah Crombie, BWC’s director of client services

Part of our work involved developing two surveys for BWC clients. As a result, Sarah said BWC now has:

Much better, more systematic data gathering which has resulted in much richer quantitative and qualitative information from our clients, which helps us develop and improve our services.

Sarah Crombie, BWC’s director of client services

Building a theory of change

The Nehemiah Foundation supports practical, community-based regeneration at a neighbourhood level.

In 2016, we worked with the Foundation to improve their planning and evaluation. First, we interviewed stakeholders, ran a workshop with them and developed a theory of change. Then, we drafted a related evaluation framework, in consultation with staff.

The Foundation’s CEO particularly valued our experience and related this to the very positive outcomes of our work with them in terms of planning and fundraising:

Our consultant was excellent and clearly very experienced – able to sort out the wood from trees, take us seriously and make us feel good about the work we do – professional and taken seriously… The clarity and support has revolutionised the way we think, crystallised our thinking and put us in a place where we can focus our energies more effectively and make our investment case more persuasively.

CEO, The Nehemiah Foundation

Some of this work was completed by Charities Evaluation Services, before we became part of NCVO.

Independent evaluations

Long term impact evaluation

The Campaign to End Loneliness is a network of people and organisations working together to tackle loneliness in older age.

We have been working with the Campaign since its launch in 2011, working on a series of independent impact evaluations.

Working closely with staff, and using surveys, interviews and focus groups, we have collected data from a wide range of Campaign supporters, policy makers, national influencers and staff. Laura Alcock-Ferguson, the director of the campaign, described our work with them:

NCVO Charities Evaluation Services have been like part of our team from the beginning, working flexibly to support our work and help us improve it. They have supplemented our work brilliantly, while also maintaining the objective view necessary for external evaluators. The high-quality data they collect, which they analyse and present back to us regularly, has really shaped how we work, helping us make the Campaign highly successful. I’ve used their findings so often, especially in funding bids and also in campaigning materials – our supporters like to know the impact they and we are having. Their support has been invaluable to us.

Laura Alcock-Ferguson, campaign director, The Campaign to End Loneliness

Evaluation of a nationwide pilot programme

Side by Side is run by the Alzheimer's Society, and helps people with dementia to get out and about with support from volunteers.

The Society commissioned us to evaluate the pilot of Side by Side between 2014 and 2017. They wanted a fully independent view, but also needed evaluators who would work closely with them, sharing findings to help develop the programme.

Our evaluation is informed by contribution analysis, a form of qualitative impact assessment. To test the programme’s theory of change, we have run surveys and interviews with multiple stakeholders, including people with dementia.  We have produced several reports, and have shared our findings through webinars and podcasts.

Our interim evaluation found evidence of significant outcomes for people with dementia. We have also recommended areas for improvement, which the Society is working on.

Lisa Beck, Side by Side’s programme lead, explained how our work has helped:

Side by Side is a really important new service for us. It was vital that we commissioned expert evaluators to help us ensure that our work best meets the needs of people with dementia. Through their independent evaluation, NCVO CES have helped us learn about what works and what can be improved. Their staff are approachable and helpful, and yet always professional. Side by Side has really been improved by having NCVO CES involved.

Lisa Beck, Side by Side’s programme lead

Some of this work was completed by Charities Evaluation Services, before we became part of NCVO.

Funders, commissioners and investors

Improving grantees’ impact assessment

The Lloyds Bank Foundation invests in charities supporting people to break out of multiple disadvantage. Realising that outcomes and impact assessment was a key area of need for many of their grantees, they commissioned NCVO CES to provide bespoke support to their grantees with measuring impact.

We have worked with the Foundation since early 2015, supporting grantees to improve their impact assessment. We offer four to six days support, often focused on developing a theory of change and planning ways to measure impact.

Michele Lester, a grants manager at the Foundation, explained the benefits of working with us:

Their support is pragmatic and yet robust, and tailored to the unique needs of the small and medium sized charities we fund. Grantees have reported an increase in their understanding of impact and the outcomes they choose to measure, they are also clearer about what they are trying to achieve which is very useful across all of their work.

Michele Lester, a grants manager at the Lloyds Bank Foundation

In 2016 we supported Stitches in Time, a community arts organisation and Foundation grantee, to improve their monitoring systems. Katie Adkins, director of enterprise and outreach, commented:

Thank you so much for your help. The new monitoring tools developed with NCVO CES have been incredibly useful in enabling us to evidence the support we are providing to our clients and clearly monitor the outcomes we are achieving. Such valuable assistance in developing well considered evaluation tools has subsequently enabled us to secure our biggest grant yet - funding from the National Lottery Community Fund.

Katie Adkins, director of enterprise and outreach at Stitches in Time

Building evaluation skills of grantees through training

NCVO Charities Evaluation Services (initially as CES) has supported BBC Children in Need (CiN) to develop the self-evaluation skills of its funded organisations for almost 20 years. We run a training programme for all organisations receiving a main grant from CiN; there have been over 7,000 attendees at the one-day training courses,* which we co-facilitate with CiN staff. Now called ‘Your Difference’, the training supports grantees to articulate their outcomes and to link them to CiN’s Difference Framework (its theory of change). It also enables grantees to set out how they will measure change occurring through their work.

The training is very well received; course evaluation forms show that 98 per cent of 2015 training attendees felt more confident to put measurement and evaluation in place within their organisation having attended. A recent CES review showed that grantees go on to make changes to their outcomes monitoring following the course, and some have found that defining outcomes has helped with project planning. Following their project evaluation for CiN, the review found that some grantees had made changes to their service delivery.

CiN has also benefitted from the programme. It receives better information on what its funded organisations achieve and the difference its funding has made, as well as learning points which it uses to inform future funding decisions.

*This includes some individuals who have attended more than once.

Engaging funded professionals in evaluation

Macmillan Cancer Support provides services and support to people affected by cancer, and campaigns to improve cancer care. Macmillan wanted to enable the health and social care professionals it supports to demonstrate the difference their work makes – so that Macmillan could better understand its impact, and professionals could clearly highlight the outcomes they were achieving.

We worked with Macmillan to develop training for professionals and have been delivering two one-day courses in impact measurement since 2013.

Tony Banach from Macmillan explained how working with us helps them evidence their impact:

Macmillan recognises that effective evaluation is essential to support the development and improvement of cancer services for patients and their families. We have a successful partnership with NCVO Charities Evaluation Services, who provide excellent learning and development across the UK to enable Macmillan professionals to evaluate their services and evidence the impact they are having. The programme aims to support those new to evaluation, as well as those with more experience, who wish to carry out more in-depth work in this area.

Tony Banach,Macmillan

Some of this work was completed by Charities Evaluation Services, before we became part of NCVO.

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