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10 important things to think about when measuring the impact of your volunteer projects (03 Oct 11)

There’s a host of things to think about, so the clearer you are at the beginning the better off everybody will be

1. Involve the intended users of the evaluation.

Intended users, also called stakeholders, are those people or organisations that you expect to use the results of your evaluation of an initiative or project. These include people who will make decisions based on the measurement of impacts, your volunteers, staff, funders, residents of the community, and others who will use the information. You should also consider people who might feel threatened by the results.

Once you have identified these users of your work, you should take steps to involve them from the beginning. They do not all require equal involvement, but the more they feel ownership in the measurement process, the more likely they will accept the results as a valid measure and use the results to improve future initiatives.

2. Have clear objectives for the evaluation.

Why do you want to measure the impact of a project? To do better next time? To justify the use of funds you received? To increase the amount of funds you receive in the future? To publicize your organisation or programme?

Your effort to measure the impact of an initiative has objectives beyond the objectives of the initiative itself. Unless you specify them, you risk completing your evaluation and realizing that you did not capture some information that you needed.

3. Don’t bite off more than you can chew

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