How our evaluation team give projects a leg-up

5 December 2023

Here at Cwmpas, we believe in values-based evaluation which is entirely people focused. The team are fortunate to work with inspirational and life-changing projects.

In this blog, we outline the core aspects of our evaluation service and detail the impact that our team has had on these organisations and the people involved. At Cwmpas our evaluation team delivers both summative and formative evaluations for a wide range of organisations including Local Authorities, Health Boards, third sector groups and social enterprises. For Cwmpas and the team, it’s about supporting the project to make a difference.

At the forefront of our evaluation service is Jenny Phillips, our Business Growth and Delivery Consultant. Jenny’s professional journey spans several diverse sectors, including higher education, public services, and the third sector, and this experience has enabled her to acquire a wide-ranging skill set. Jenny’s MSc in Gerontology and Ageing Studies from Swansea University has allowed her to gain a deep understanding of qualitative and quantitative research methods, coupled with an adeptness in data analysis.

Jenny and the team have been involved in a variety of monitoring and evaluation work across Wales. What sets our evaluation process apart is our people-centric approach. We believe that by placing the community, stakeholders, and participants at the heart of the evaluation process, projects can truly reach their potential.

Jenny sheds light on their approach, dispelling the myth that evaluations are just a checkbox exercise:

“We’re not here to find faults. We become integral members of the project team, helping guide it towards its full potential and capturing valuable evidence. Our goal is to showcase results in a way that organisations and funders find valuable.”

Our approach to evaluation

Jenny and the team don’t just evaluate; they become true partners of the project. The ultimate goal of everybody involved is to ensure the project’s success, and we take proactive measures to achieve the best possible outcomes. Building strong relationships is paramount, and we collaborate closely with funders to research and understand the project intricacies.

Jenny outlined her perspective:

“For us, evaluation is not the end result, and we pride ourselves on helping support organisations to gather evidence and identify strategic relevance that will support them to continue to grow, secure funding and achieve their aims. Acting in part as a critical friend, we work closely alongside our clients, always striving to maximise the potential of each project.

The breadth of services we offer covers many levels of project management, and we work with funding bodies regularly. This means that we have extensive insight into how funding works and essentially, we know what the funders are looking for. This ensures that we can bring evidence to the fore that we know is useful and valuable to funders”.

Our impact

The impact that this service provides varies, reflecting the unique goals of each project. Some projects emphasise financial gains and data-driven results, while others delve into individual experience.

When speaking about the impact that the service has, Jenny said:

“The diverse nature of the evaluation process means that we can analyse projects in a number of ways. We can use HM Treasury Green Book or TOMs Framework methodologies to formulate ROI. We may use qualitative, participatory methods such as Most Significant Change or Ripple Effect Mapping to capture more qualitative outcomes. We always spend time talking with the people involved at all levels of the project, ranging from people receiving a service or support, to the organisations executives. Listening to people one-on-one and amplifying these voices to tell the story of the project is incredibly effective both in terms of demonstrating impact and in securing future funding.”

Memorable projects

Two standout projects illustrate the team’s expertise. The Bridgend County Borough Council project’s focus was on regenerating Bridgend town centres by enabling new businesses to test trade in ‘pop-ups’ – in empty shop spaces and market stalls – thereby increasing footfall and dwell time and increasing spending in local shops and markets.

In order to provide evidence to support the project’s impact on footfall and spending, Jenny analysed data from the town centre footfall cameras and data available on retail spending to provide robust evidence of an increase in both footfall and spending resulting from the project’s activities. This coupled with testimonies from those directly involved allowed for a comprehensive analysis of the project.

Cwmpas is also collaborating with the Arts Council of Wales on a 3-year project exploring how creativity and creative habits of mind can be embedded into early years nursery settings across Wales. When discussing her contribution, Jenny pointed out:

“It’s a really exciting and valuable project to be involved in, reflecting the principles of the Future Generations Act which are fundamental in shaping the future of Wales. It has been a really collaborative and positive experience, with Cwmpas supporting the project to really bring out the value of the work achieved by the team.”

The report is available here:

As we continue to evolve and adapt, our focus remains on enabling projects to reach their full potential, fostering progress, and leaving a lasting impact on those involved with each project.

Can we help you evaluate a project or a grant? Get in touch with the team for a chat.