Evaluating your HMD activity allows you to reflect on all the elements of your event, assess the reach of your event and its impact. It can inform the way you commemorate 27 January in the future. It also helps demonstrate value in your work transparently – of particular importance for the continuation of publicly funded and charitably funded projects. Evaluations do not need to be time-consuming and we have a number of suggestions to keep the process simple.
Where to begin
You may want to have a quick reflection soon after the event (with colleagues, and/or get feedback straightaway from participants) as well as having a more in-depth reflection when you’ve had time to recover. Remember to give everyone involved time to reflect and respond without pressure but don’t leave it so long that people forget the small things that can make your activity run smoother next time. A good time to begin your evaluation is within two weeks of your activity.
What do you want to find out?
- what did you originally want to achieve with your activity?
- did you meet/achieve those goals? What worked?
- look at the strengths of your activity
- what could you do differently next time? What could you learn from this to take it forward?
- what were the things that held you back?
- what does everyone else think?
What kind of information do you want back?
Do you want a qualitative or quantitative response or a mixture of the two? We prefer a mixture of the two with an emphasis on numbers, helping you to justify your hard work and build on your successes. Examples of qualitative and quantitative information might be:
Quantitative: ‘We had over 300 attendees and 80% were pleased with the event'.
Qualitative: ‘I found the event extremely moving and attending has given me the confidence to make a difference in my neighbourhood today’.
You’ve worked extremely hard to put on your activity and sometimes it’s difficult to hear other people’s comments, complaints and, even positive feedback at times. When doing so:
- keep an open mind at all times
- think of the broader reasons for the evaluation
- remember your original aims for the activity and the target audience
- remind yourselves of the values of treating others with respect, dignity and avoiding discrimination. Behave in the evaluation meeting in a way that is consistent with these beliefs
- maintain healthy disagreement but be sensitive to the impact that disagreement has on others
- bring solutions with problems
- keep communication open at all times
How will you gather the information?
You may not have time to meet people individually, but there are others ways to hear their feedback. A simple and effective way to get that information is to do an online survey. We recommend 'SurveyMonkey' which provides a free basic service. You could also create your own survey in a Word document and ask people to complete it online or in hard copy. Keep questions short and succinct and consider whether you would like questionnaires to be completed anonymously, as this may help you to gather more honest answers. We’ve provided some sample evaluation questions to demonstrate how you might approach this.
Remember to say a big thank you! There is nothing more rewarding than thanking people for attending or volunteering. There may be some parts of your evaluation that you don’t want to share and simply retain for internal use, but sharing positive results is really beneficial for all involved. If your event was a success and you know what has taken place – tell people! eg ‘you were 1 of 176 people who came together to build bridges in our community and over 75 candles were lit’. Share any press coverage from your activity and consider including a special thank you from a survivor that attended.
It’s never too early to begin planning. It may be only February but you have lots of enthusiasm and will have learnt some key things for your next HMD. Put some deadlines in your diary to start the planning for next year and remember to look back at your evaluation regularly and include the results in your planning.