ESS first Convenor remembers...
I was a funder with over ten years of experience when the idea of a new organisation, later to be called Evaluation Support Scotland (ESS), came into being. At that time, there was not a common understanding of the purposes for evaluation. For example, there was a huge appetite, often European and Government / Public Body driven, about having projects evaluated. This meant crudely, evaluation being done to community organisations, often at the end of a funding period. Right at the same time, ‘social return on investment (SROI)’ started to make an appearance. We (I was ESS’s first convenor!) could see that it had attractions for those with a different philosophical approach from us about what funding was intended to achieve.
Back then there were many consultants supporting evaluation with a variety of tools, and this produced pressure for the new ESS about whether it should accredit consultants and evaluation tools, which we decided not to do.
Those of us funders who were practicing and promoting self-evaluation thought that ongoing self-evaluation was the best way to know what difference, if any, was being made for those assisted by a funded organisation. This mutuality to us was self evident and, thankfully to our main funders and supporters, The Scottish Government, The Big Lottery Fund, The Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland and The Laidlaw Youth Trust.
Our board members were astonishingly talented and the staff were equally challenging to us in ensuring that evaluation was, and is, for everyone involved in funding. We were comforted that our approach to evaluation was often already being practiced by many of those receiving funding. They often shared with us their frustrations that their funder(s) were struggling to understand what and why they had agreed to fund! Have times changed?
It’s a great pleasure to have been a part of ESS’s success – thank you and I wish you a Happy 10th Birthday!
Fraser Falconer, Former ESS Convenor (2005-2009)