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Learning from evaluation

The benefits of evaluation

Better evaluation and learning from evaluation results in more effective services for people and communities

At ESS we promote self-evaluation.  Self-evaluation

  • Is effective for demonstrating impact
  • Is often better value than external evaluation
  • Is rigorous when well designed
  • Can be more accessible for service users
  • Helps you learn

We believe evaluation should be valuable, relevant and proportionate.

What this means is that evaluation should:

  • Generate learning to improve policy, practice and service design.
  • Tell us what doesn’t work as well as what does.
  • Be built into the way people and organisations work: evaluation is part of practice and practice is part of evaluation.
  • Be for everyone - all sizes and types of organisation can improve their self-evaluation processes.
  • Be supported – organisations should have access to training and support to build their skills.

We produced a number of case studies highlighting some of the benefits of evaluation.  If you would like more information or would like to share how your organisation has benefited from evaluation, please contact us.

Evidence into Policy and Practice

The following sections contain practical examples of how learning from evaluation can help change practice and influence policy and practice:

Thematic Learning Programmes 
These are partnership projects to build understanding about the voluntary sector’s contribution to a given policy area and how to evaluate that contribution.

ESS Knowledge Translation
ESS acts as a broker by sharing knowledge and evidence from the third sector to address barriers to evidence use; identify gaps, and champion the use of self-evaluation as a legitimate source of evidence for decision and policy-making.

Scottish Third Sector Research Forum
The Scottish Third Sector Research Forum collaborates and shares ideas on the research and evidence needs for the third sector.  Members include representatives of a range of third sector intermediary bodies, in particular the strategic partners of the Scottish Government’s Third Sector Unit.

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