Marketing & communications

Evaluating Charity Comms: How can you measure the things that matter?

Start with the big picture.

Natasha Roe, co-founder of Red Pencil, gives us an exclusive insight into her Evaluation Communications session at this year’s Charity Writing and Communications Training Days and tell us how to go about evaluating charity comms.

Four years ago, at the first workshop I ran at the Charity Writing and Communications Training Days, a delegate called Rose asked me:

 “When evaluating communications, how do you know you are measuring the things that matter rather than just measuring the things you expect to see?”

It was a good question. I’m sure many communications people have asked the very same question. Rose was in my communications strategy workshop while someone else ran the evaluations one, so it gave me pause for thought.

Her question came back to me when planning this year’s evaluating communication workshop because what I should have said loudly and clearly is –  to start with the ‘big picture’.

  • What is our vision?
  • What changes are needed to help achieve our vision?
  • What actions (knowledge, attitude and behaviours) to we need people to take to make these changes?
  • What are we doing to get people to take these actions?
  • Which of these things are to do with communications?

In other words, you start from what you are trying to change. The activities and actions (knowledge, attitudes and behaviours) you measure flow from that.

In the international NGO world and some other charity sectors, this is known as ‘top down planning’. It’s good stuff – and it works.

Rose’s question was initially tricky to answer, because all too often communications planning and evaluation start at the ‘bottom’ – with the focus on ‘what we are doing’ rather than asking ‘why’ and ‘how do we know if it’s working’?

When you start by planning communications evaluation from the ‘bottom up’ you can miss the bigger goals. Almost certainly you end up measuring the things you expect to see rather than progress towards the changes needed to achieve your vision – the things that matter.

Find out more about how you too can measure the things that matter in your charity at the Charity Writing and Communications Training Days on 25 and 26 October.