FAQ - Monitoring and evaluation
When we refer to monitoring, we mean how you collect information about what is happening in your project and report to us on progress.
There are two main reasons we monitor progress:
Firstly, we strongly believe that every project is a learning process, both for the project organisation and for Nominet Trust. Reflecting on how the project is progressing is a crucial part of effective project delivery. This means asking honest questions about what is and isn’t working, and most importantly, why.
Secondly, Nominet Trust has a responsibility to account for the investments we make. This means having a way of articulating and evidencing the activities and impact that our investments make in the world.
We have a standard Monitoring Form, which you will be asked to complete online at regular intervals during your project (e.g. quarterly). It asks how the project is progressing against your project plan and whether you are achieving the objectives you have set. We also ask for updated budgets so we can keep track of the investment.
We always encourage honesty in monitoring and evaluation. We recognise any project is a learning process and will undergo changes and adaptations as it progresses.
Evaluation is about learning about what works from your project and the model of change you are using. It focuses on understanding what change has happened for the beneficiaries and why. Nominet Trust focuses on measuring ‘outcomes’, the changes that your project has effected, rather than just what the project has produced.
Outputs are the products of the project. For example it might be the resources produced or workshops run.
Outcomes are the specific changes that result from your project. This could include something participants learnt, a change in the participants’ behaviour, a change in the environment, or a change in society. Outcomes could be intended or unintended.
It can be helpful to try to step away from the specifics of project delivery for a moment and ask yourself: what changes do I want this project to make? How will be the participants (or wider community) be changed by this project? Outcomes should relate to the original need your project is trying to satisfy.
There are lots of free useful resources online to help you identify outcomes. The Charities Evaluation Services has some great free downloadable resources. View their online guidance to outcomes
If you are at risk of not meeting your objectives, we need to be informed as soon as possible. We will ask you to identify the project risks and how you intend to mitigate these. We will offer support and advice where possibled. We believe all projects are a learning process and innovation carries risk.
If appropriate, there are sanctions for non delivery in our Funding Agreement, which we could invoke.
A Theory of Change is a way of creating a step-by-step map of the changes your project will make. It identifies the overall goal of your project, and breaks down all the changes that need to happen to achieve it.
Creating a Theory of Change means you end up with a chain of cause and effect linking your short term outcomes to your overall goal. It's like saying "if this happens, then that will happen." A Theory of Change also helps you to identify the assumptions in your project about how one change will lead to another. These assumptions often form a crucial part of a project evaluation.
A logic model is a way of mapping out the different components of a project. It generally has 4 parts:
- Inputs - the resources that go into a project (e.g. money or people's time)
- Activities - the activities that the project undertakes (e.g. running a training session)
- Outputs - the tangible results of the project (e.g. number of people trained)
- Outcomes - the changes the outputs has resulted in (e.g. more people using the internet)