Posts Tagged ‘evaluation’

can information be art?

August 5, 2010

Hello My name is Jennifer and I’m a information design geek.  Its been 2 hours since my last mind map.

I’ve always been a fan of mind maps, flow charts and basically anything that doesn’t involve lots of writing (it might be natural laziness or a ingrained desire to avoid writing leftover from my dyslexic school days). However I normally reserve these ways of working for my own notes or internal documents but I’m starting to change my mind about this.

On Tuesday I was minding my own business catching up with my emails when at the bottom of an e-newsletter form the Social Enterprise Academy was a link to the following website: http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/ – Thank you Social enterprise acdemy you have open up a whole world of ways to present infomation in a intertesting and not literary way.

The types of graphic David McCandless produces may be familiar to Guardian readers as he sometimes writes for them. but his website presents so many different ideas and methods of presenting information and facts that it is well worth a look – although be warned you might lose several hours exploring his images.

Not many charities will be able to afford to bring in a graphic designer with his skill but the use of graphics, charts and basically anything creative in presenting information in written documents is something ESS has always encourages organisation to do since we started 4 years ago. Not only can it a bit of creativity make evaluation reports and data in particular look more interesting but also it could also convey much more to the reader that pages of narrative ever could.

It might be too late for me to save ESS’s own annual review this year – maybe it is not to late for your next report?

How to Evaluate Information Work – Part 3

April 6, 2010

Are you reaching the right people?

In the previous article in this series we discussed how people can find out about your work. But how do you know whether your information reaches the right people – those who need your services or those who are most likely to support your cause? And are those people using your information in useful ways?

 People may subscribe to your e-bulletin but never open it, or take a printed leaflet and just recycle it. Hopefully your eye catching design and compelling text means that this doesn’t happen, but how can you find out?

 If your services are in demand, and you have an ever increasing subscription list and a pool of regular donors and volunteers then your communications are probably working! On the other hand if no-one seems to be interested then you may need to improve your communications.

 The statistics about your website and e-mail campaigns can give you a feel for how many people actually read what you write. It’s useful also to take every opportunity to ask people how they found out about your work. You can ask ‘how did you find out about our services/events/newsletter?’ on booking forms, evaluation forms and subscription forms. You can then analyse how people find out about you and use this to refine how you market your work. If some information channels aren’t working for you, ask yourself whether you are using them to their full potential or whether in fact they’re not the right channels for you.

If you are asking people to take action you need to be able to find out whether your communications are helping them to take those actions! Many charities now ask their supporters to feedback using postcards or emails to say wehn they have taken action. It is relatively easy to see how much influence you have on Twitter and Facebook by watching what your supporters do with your information and how often they share your posts.

You should research which forms of communication might best suit your work before leaping in and making the commitment. Online communication can take a lot of time to use effectively. You may find it useful to read some of the articles on Beth’s Blog: How Non Profit Organisations can Use Social Media; the NCVO Marketing Blog and the Ask Charity Blog to start your thinking about how to use online marketing for the best impact. Just because a lot of charities are using Twitter, doesn’t mean you need to!

For a more in depth guide to evaluating information work, try Issue Lab’s Are We There Yet? A Communications Evaluation Guide.

How to Evaluate Information Work – Part 2

March 10, 2010

How do People find out about your Work?

In my last post, I introduced the idea of evaluating information work. You want to know who knows about your organisation and how they find out. First you need to be clear about how people can find out about your work.

 You have your own information sources – perhaps a blog, website, e-bulletin, Facebook or Myspace page, Twitter, paper publications. But how well connected are you?

  • How many people link to your blog or website?
  • How many people are fans of your Facebook or Myspace page?
  • How many people order your paper publications?
  • How many external organisations display your paper publications?

 It’s useful to search the internet (see Shayna’s article here about how to maximise your searching!) to find out who refers to you. Is your information being displayed in relevant websites or are your events being advertised on Australian websites? You have no control over how information passes round the internet and there’s no harm in someone in Australia knowing what’s happening in their field in Scotland! However you need to target the right places if you want your information to reach the right people. You also need to let people know where you can be found! Your web presence needs to be advertised at every opportunity, your leaflets need to be widely distributed to the right places.

You also want to know what people actually read! Most websites and e-bulletin packages offer statistics so you can find out how many people read your website or open your e-bulletin. Twitter and Facebook let you see who likes your ideas enough to pass them on. Paper publications can have cut-off forms that people can return to request more information, to book a place on a training course, to donate money or to volunteer their services.

 After all, you don’t just want people to know about your work, you want them to use your services, engage with your organisation and possibly to change their behaviour. I’ll discuss that issue more in the next post in this series. In the meantime you can find out more about evaluation at the Evaluation Support Scotland website.

 Where can people find information on your organisation? What do you think are the pros and cons of the different information channels? Leave your comments here and I’ll pick up on the most interesting points in my next post.

How to Evaluate Information Work – Part 1

February 17, 2010

 Introduction

In a difficult economic climate, it’s increasingly important to be able to demonstrate how effective your work is. Evaluation helps you to work out the impact of your communications. 

It can be tricky to work out the impact of information work. Who is aware of your work and how much do they know? Does this information then lead them to take up your services or donate to your cause? How do you find these things out? And at what point does the effectiveness of information work give way to the effectiveness of service delivery or fundraising?

Over the next couple of weeks I will share ideas on how to measure:

  • How people find out about your work.
  • How people use your information.
  • Whether your information is reaching the right people.

 I will be discussing evaluation that can be done by a small organisation with not a great deal of resources. You can find out more about evaluation at the Evaluation Support Scotland website.

 If there’s anything you want to know about evaluating information work, please ask in the comments section! I will pick up interesting points in the next post on evaluation in the week beginning 8 March!