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Documentation and evaluation

Documentation and evaluation are important parts of any event or project, providing a chance to reflect on what has happened, hear ideas and thoughts for the future, and the opportunity to share with others anything you've learned along the way.

Importantly, you need to show that the money spent wasn't wasted. Whether your event was funded by the council, a grant, public donations or through private sponsorship, these funders will want a report that clearly shows how their money was spent and that it had a positive outcome.

What is documentation and evaluation?

Documentation is descriptive evidence of what happened at the event, who took part and what people thought about it. Documentation includes photos, film, audio recordings, creative writing, drawings, press cuttings and any other record of what went on.

Evaluation is the process of looking at what you set out to achieve, asking questions about what actually happened and working out what lessons can be learned for the future.

Aims and objectives

Evaluation requires good planning and clear aims and objectives set out at the very beginning. If you set out your aims and objectives you can make sure you get the evidence you need at the end. Questions you might ask to determine your aims and objectives are:

  • Why you are doing it? (aims)
  • Who do you want to come? (aims)
  • What you want to achieve from the event? (objectives)

Asking the right questions

Once you've decided on your aims and objectives, you'll need to think about how you will measure success. By asking questions of your audience and participants you can build a picture of their opinions and get some useful statistics at the same time.

  • How did your event go?
  • Did many people turn up?
  • Did they enjoy themselves?
  • What did they say about the performances?
  • Could it have been better?
  • Would they prefer things to be different next time?

Audiences London have a set of free information sheets about carrying out audience research for evaluation purposes.

Asking the right people

It's a good idea to take into account who you are trying to engage with and then find a method that will appeal to those participants. For example a questionnaire for young children might be designed differently to one for adults. To get a full picture of people's experience you might want to speak to:

  • Audience members
  • Performers
  • Partners
  • Local residents
  • Stall holders
  • Workshop leaders

Equal opportunities

To help you know your audience better and to find out if have reached groups you wanted to through your event, it is important to monitor equal opportunities information, which could include:

  • Sex
  • Age
  • Race
  • Disability
  • Postcode

This information will be required by funders and Southwark Council, and may help you to plan a future project or event that is more relevant to the type of audience or participant you attracted.

Please note, equal opportunities monitoring should be collected anonymously and never kept with information that would identify the individual involved, such as an email address if collecting for a mailing list.

Learning the lessons

Once the evidence has been collected you should be able to look at the data and see whether you have met your objectives, you may also discover unexpected positive and negative outcomes too. This information can be shared with participants, partners and funders in a variety of ways which could include:

  • A discussion at a project review meeting
  • An event debrief
  • A written report

Alongside your evaluation, documentation will support and evidence your findings too.

If the project is repeated or developed in future years the evidence should be looked at again and from this any actions that will enhance and improve the project should be taken.

Data protection

If you are collecting personal information, such as ethnicity, gender, age etc or contact details then you need to be aware of the Data Protection Act 1998

Personal information cannot be shared with any third party unless you have permission from the people who have completed the questionnaire, who should also be informed of how this information will be used and who it will be shared with.

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