“Prove It! enabled us to constantly keep on track. It would have been easy to avoid the consultation otherwise. It was good for keeping people ‘on board’.”
“Prove it! has increased my awareness of how the decisions I am making impact on the community. I’ve as a result of having Prove It! tried harder to see it from the community’s viewpoint.”
“The evaluation benefited from being done using Prove it! It helped me to work with residents which is one of the main things we were trying to do in the project.”
“When they started using the Timeline we couldn’t stop people chipping in. We were really encouraged by the response.”
“Prove It! works with politicians, funders and communities. It provides a rationale for carrying on working with a community.”
The Prove It! Toolkit will help you evaluate your community project by:
- Involving volunteers and beneficiaries in telling their project’s story.
- Looking beyond the ‘easy-to-count’ to the important changes for the participants and their communities.
- Investigating how change takes place, and how to improve impact.
- Sharing and building on the learning gained from peoples’ experiences of taking part.
The Prove It! Toolkit draws from a decade of NEF’s work in participation and evaluation. The original handbook was published in 2000 in response to a need identified by Groundwork UK and NEF to measure the real effects of neighbourhood renewal on local people.
The Toolkit follows three steps: deciding what to measure with a Storyboard, collecting information with a Survey and looking back on what actually happened with a Project Reflection workshop.
Each step features worksheets and instructions for a range of participative evaluation exercises. Pick and choose from these materials to support your management, measurement and reporting activities throughout the project cycle.
In addition, two supporting documents help with evaluation planning and reporting.
The Prove It! Toolkit has been designed to help project managers evaluate their own projects. Sometimes we find that users of the Toolkit ask for help or advice in using the different elements of the methodology, and so NEF Consulting are happy to offer bespoke training and support if required.
The Storyboard and Impact Mapping exercise has been designed to help:
- Explore how a project’s intended activities will lead to change.
- Describe what that change will look like.
- Identify the best ways of knowing (indicators) that it is happening.
The exercise should be used as close to the start of the project as possible, ideally in preparation for a grant application, so subsequent evaluation activity can be planned and incorporated into the project’s delivery. To prove whether a project is making a difference, you first need a hypothesis, or underlying ‘theory of change’ on how the project’s activities (the inputs) produce results (outputs) that help to bring about change (outcomes).
The Storyboard and Impact Mapping exercise can be used with a mixed group of staff, volunteers and potential beneficiaries involved in a project in order to map out the ‘theory of change’. By the end of the exercise you should be able to identify the best ways of knowing that change has taken place, and therefore what sort of questions to ask of participants and beneficiaries.
Download the instructions for the Storyboard and Impact Mapping exercise.
The Survey questionnaire can be used with project participants and community members over the lifetime and beyond the completion of a community-based project. Ideally the survey should be administered before and after the project activities are completed for a sense of the extent to which the project has made a difference.
An Excel spreadsheet provides space for responses and to present and compare data collected from two rounds of surveying.
To make the Survey simple to administer we have chosen a core list of the most powerful indicators of a project’s impact on social capital and quality of life. For each indicator there are 1 to 3 simple questions for project participants and non project-participating members of the wider community. This core list relates to the potential effects of a project on:
- Frequency of use of the new space or facility.
- Attractiveness of the neighbourhood.
- Levels of community safety.
- People’s inclusion, involvement and trust in local decision-making processes.
- People’s networks and contacts:
- for achieving change
- for feeling connected to a community
- in case of a need for help.
The Survey questionnaire contains ready-made demographic questions to help report on the specific groups of people involved in or affected by a project.
Project managers can design additional questions for a survey using the additional question templates.
The Project Reflection Workshop provides an opportunity to bring together people who have been involved in, or affected by a community project.
Participants gather round an interactive poster that uses a timeline to help them:
- Share their version of the project’s story.
- Describe their personal high points and low points.
- Identify evidence of the project’s impact.
- Explore what can be learnt from their experiences of being involved.
The Project Reflection Workshop is based on the Look Back Move Forward tool developed by nef in partnership with the Shell Better Britain Campaign.
The interactive poster provides the structure for a 1½ to 2½ hour meeting that can involve project staff, volunteers and members of the wider community. A facilitator, ideally someone other than the project manager, uses the instructions provided to help participants reflect on different aspects of their project.
The workshop is designed to explore the unintended and unexpected consequences of a project, and to identify what can be learnt from the experience. A recording sheet is provided to capture the main points of the discussion for a report.