EVALUATING THE IMPACT OF ERASMUS PLUS PROJECTS
Have you ever wondered if your activities are having any real impact on your target group? Do you struggle analyzing data that proves to your National Agency or the European Commission that their funding has been well invested? Have you found yourself collecting data that is not relevant, making you feel like you are wasting time and energy for no reason?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, L’Orma has the solution to your problems. In this article we will discover step by step the basics that you need to know in order to evaluate the results that your Erasmus+ project is having.
As a worker in the field of social change, it is clear that you wish to achieve some kind of positive transformation in the population with whom you apply your actions. Analyzing whether your interventions are having any repercussion is a matter of ethics. There is no reason to fund your actions if what you are doing has none or close to none of the effects originally expected.
You must also consider the difficulties to achieve the objectives that you have proposed yourself, due to a wide variety of unexpected factors. If reaching positive outcomes was as easy as to intend it, Erasmus Plus would not event exists. Sometimes an idea might look very good initially, but it becomes incredible difficult to put into practice and/or its impact is insignificant considering the efforts it requires.
Using an Impact model
An Impact Model considers 3 dimensions:
Breadth: Number of people that you reach with your actions. You should also count the multiplier effect. For example, if you train 5 youth workers and each of them works with 20 children, the impact is not reduced to the original 5 educators (you need to make some assumptions).
Target: Percentage of the people reached that is actually part of the group you wanted to reach. To find out about this, you can ask people directly, indirectly (for example, you ask a teacher about the profile of the students she has) or use existing statistical data.
Depth: How much the lives of this people have changed thanks to you. There are many methods to analyze depth of impact:
- Surveys/Questionnaires. Try not to ask to many questions or interest will decrease significantly. Furthermore, include some open-ended questions, that will give you a better insight of the situation you want to analyze.
- Focus groups/interviews. These can be useful when you have found a problem through the surveys that you want to understand more in detail or if the topic of is too sensitive to be asked through general questionnaires.
- Randomized Control Trials. For these the outcomes are compared between those that received the program and those who did not. These can be particularly useful when you are testing a method/laboratory at school.
Using Theory of Change
Theory of Change explains how activities are understood to produce a series of results that contribute to achieving the final intended impacts. For this, you will divide your project in steps and identify the assumptions that are critical to your impact model.
Input: The resources needed for a particular program. For example, successful entrepreneurs that are willing to provide advice to unemployed youth.
Output: The product or service that you offer. For example, 8-hour workshops at youth centers carried out about volunteering entrepreneurs about how to start your own business.
Outcome: The effects that your program will have. For example, young unemployed people understand how to put their business ideas into practice and feel motivated to do so.
Impact: The long-term or indirect effects of the outcomes. For example, some participants will actually start running their own business, reducing youth unemployment in a direct (they get a job) and indirect way (they create job opportunities for others).
Some assumptions: You will find entrepreneurs that have time and interest in doing this volunteering activity; the information provided in the workshops is sufficient to start one’s business; participants are lucky and will run their business in a profitable way that allows them to grow and become sustainable over time, etc.
As you can see, there are many aspects that influence the success of your program that you cannot control. So, always remember to stablish check-up times in advance and be open to adjusting your approach if necessary. Otherwise, all your efforts will be put to waste.
Was this article useful? Will you introduce any of these ideas in the evaluation process of your organization? Let us know in the comments or in our Facebook page!