We evaluate for various reasons. Top amongst them has to be a desire to find out whether what we are doing has an effect and whether that effect is the one we thought it would. Without this knowledge we cannot develop or refine a service or respond effectively to the needs of those people who hold a stake in the work – such as participants, project funders or commissioners.
Do any of the following apply to you? You want to know how many people took part in a project and whether they were the people you had hoped to reach. You are interested to know about how the artistic outputs of a project have been displayed or received. You are concerned to know whether participants enjoyed the experience of taking part. You want to establish what practical challenges were involved in delivering the project and how they were overcome, what did not go well and what you could improve on next time. You are interested in unexpected outcomes, and whether the project worked in ways you had not anticipated. You want to understand whether the project represented a worthwhile financial investment. You are interested in understanding the benefits the project has delivered for participants in terms of their health, wellbeing or quality of life. Evaluation can help in all of these areas.