Unlocking the Power of Evaluation

Beverley Gormley, our Unlocking the Power of Communities Programme Manager, and Gwendolen Powell of TDR Heritage explain more about HTN’s new Resilient Heritage programme and how you can help make it a success.

What are we doing?

One of our corporate supporters, TDR Heritage, is currently working with the Heritage Trust Network to evaluate our ‘Unlocking the Power of Communities’ programme, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and players of the National Lottery. This three-year project is aimed at improving HTN’s capacity to provide support through information, advice, training and networking: online and face-to-face. The project also incorporates the ‘Open High Streets: Transforming Places Through Heritage’ training events which are supported by the Architectural Heritage Fund. Hopefully you have already attended a themed online event or taken part in a Network Natter.

Like many projects this year the ‘how’ and ‘when’ bits of our programme have evolved as we adapt to new circumstances and ways of working. And, as all programming is currently taking place online, the evaluation of our project has also had to evolve, but at its heart is a framework to help us understand how successful our project is being and the benefits it is delivering for HTN members.

Why are we doing it?

As many HTN members will know, evaluation is a key requirement for many grants. Not only does it help funders see how a project is making a difference for heritage, people and their communities, it also demonstrates value for money and provides a check on whether the promised ‘outcomes’ – or benefits are being achieved.

As we carry out the evaluation throughout the whole of the programme, it means that we can tweak what we are doing – and how we do it – to make our project as successful as possible. But, more than this, the evaluation also provides an ongoing log of ‘lessons learned’ for HTN to draw on and help us plan our future work.

All your feedback is crucial to this process, so whenever you attend an event, please do complete the short survey at the end of the event – and keep those comments coming in!

Some of the key benefits of unlocking the power of evaluation are shown below:

What can we tell you so far?

We’ve been using our data crunching tools to calculate and process what we know about the project’s impact already. Here are a few vital statistics which are helping us monitor, discuss and adapt the project to suit people.
• So far there have been 438 attendances across both webinars and Network Natters, with the English Midlands branch attending the most webinars.
• Webinars are attracting regular attenders and new faces too. 48% of survey respondents told us that this was their first HTN event and 19% were non HTN members.

• Email and the newsletter are the most popular communication channels with Twitter also being an important driver.
• The best attended webinar was the programme’s first, with 105 people joining the event. Unfortunately, a lot of attendees didn’t give us feedback on this session – but on the positive side, that gave us a valuable nudge to work on improving ‘response rates’ for each event and to explain to attendees why its so important to give us this feedback.
• Attendance has been highest for the sessions linked to the Open High Streets programme. The session which engaged most people to feedback on was Addressing Racism in Heritage: Acknowledging the Past, Sharing the Future, where speakers and case studies were highlighted as outstanding. Open High Streets: What I wish I knew When I Started My First Project also promoted many positive and enthusiastic comments.
• When people attend an event, we have been asking a range of questions about your experience, and responses are proving to be constantly positive: 60% of survey respondents felt events were very relevant to their needs and 62% said there was some positive impact on the way they felt.
• The reason most people attended a session was to learn something new.

• The feedback has also told us that the organisation and ‘technology’ of online events has sometimes been of concern and some people attending sessions have experienced various technical difficulties. Luckily these comments have given us the chance to try and work through how we run events and to ‘design’ out niggles wherever we can.
• Otherwise we know that many of you have enjoyed the conversational, informal tone of the online events and the level of attendance at regional Network Natters shows how important having a regular forum for open dialogue and discussion is for many.
• We’ve also learned that participants are keen to see more in-depth discussions on topics that we have covered and many people suggested further themes to keep the team busy!

Our evaluation needs you! 38% of people who attended an event filled out an online survey. Please help us to boost this number and improve the impact of the project by completing all event feedback forms.

 

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