Often a last step of evaluation is to submit a final report giving an overview and summary of how and to what extent a project achieved its aims, and what it learned that can help for the future. Sadly, all too frequently these are simply sent to the relevant funder and never looked at again. What a waste. And it's not what the funders want either. Having invested so much time and money, they want you to help the sector and your community do better, and to use your evaluation to help do so. As an evaluator I don't often get feedback about my client's work from funders, but when I do, it has always been specifically because it's been clear not just about proving what went well, but about learning and improving things for the future. They WANT to see the lessons learned.
I was delighted to see recently that the British Council have published an independent report exploring the evaluation of their Cultural Protection programme. The review looked at 49 evaluation reports, scoring each out of ten on quality, gaining points for inclusion of, for example: clear project description; robust methods; and, analytical conclusions. The mean average quality score was 6.5. Three reports scored 10, and five scored three or less. I am incredibly honoured to see the one case study they selected from those three was my final evaluation of the Sudan Memory project.
The report says, "Sudan Memory: conserving and promoting Sudanese cultural and documentary heritage. This report was well written and clearly structured, outcomes and impact focussed, and contained clear objectives and methodology. What set this report apart from some of the others was its level of insight into each of the three outcomes, and its ability to provide clear examples of each, inclusive of its success factors, limitations and learning for the future."
A final report is a huge undertaking. The clearer and more useful it is, the more time it takes. Please don't leave it on the (virtual) shelves of funders. Take the time and energy everyone put into it and use that to help your resources and those across the sector go further, by putting into practice what you learned.
To see this report, and further proof that funders do want to see lessons learned not just great successes, have a browse through this example reports page.
I'm most interested in how the public, your public, whoever that may be, engages with culture and creativity.
And if it nurtures creativity and develops personal, social or professional skills I'm absolutely all ears.