Here at the Erasmus+ UK National Agency, we are tackling how to assess the impact of the programme upon the UK. Between 2014-2016 we allocated total grant funds of €346.9m and there is growing interest from policy-makers and stakeholders in what the benefits of all this activity and funding are.
So far, we have supported almost 2,800 projects and in offices up and down the UK beneficiaries are wrestling with the same impact assessment challenge as us.
How do you demonstrate impact?
We did some investigating. There are lots of toolkits, guides and resource banks available to help you capture data and measure things – we link to some examples on our website.
We found that many of these were useful if you already knew what your impact was and had decided how to measure it. But there seemed to be a gap for something – a tool or exercise – to help beneficiaries with the initial question: “What will our intended impact be?”
Introducing the Impact+ Exercise
Other National Agencies recognised that the same gap existed in their country. So, we decided upon a Transnational Cooperation Activity (TCA) to develop and test something together to help Erasmus+ beneficiaries.
The result was the Impact+ Exercise – a workshop-style exercise that aimed to bring partners together to discuss their project impact. We piloted the exercise with 25 beneficiaries from 12 countries at our Learning Networks event in Manchester.
I think it is a really good tool for impact assessment. I am sure I am going to use it … when I am writing a new application, because it clarifies every important thing which is necessary for a good project.
Four things we learnt:
- It's difficult to clearly and simply say what your projects intended impact is supposed to be. But it is worth doing as it will help you focus on the essential parts of your project.
- Your partnership will have different ideas about what is important to measure and how. You need to discuss and agree common needs early on in the project.
- You cannot collect, process and analyse data on everything you would like to. You need to prioritise the most important areas of your work to design data collection tools and analysis.
- You already have lots of data that you can use. You will probably be writing reports to your organisations management, your partnership and your funders. Use this data in your impact assessment and focus your energy on filling in data gaps.
- The Impact+ Exercise is just a start. There will still be lots of work to do, but sometimes getting started is the hardest part.
It's never too soon to start looking at your project impact so download the Impact+ Exercise materials now.