Evaluation is a powerful instrument. It allows you to:

  1. Measure target group progress along the path to social and professional integration;
  2. Demonstrate the results and effectiveness of your Work Integration Programme (WIP) to different stakeholders;
  3. Enhance the trustworthiness and sustainability of social enterprises;
  4. Advocate on behalf of vulnerable groups at policy-making level.

Evaluation can be defined as a process of analysis. It is a critical and methodologically controlled reflection that is useful throughout your programme’s whole life cycle and even after its conclusion, through the follow-up on its long-term consequences (impacts). So, the moment you design your WIP is also the best time to design its evaluation process (see: On The Right Track?).

The diagram shows the different roles evaluation can play in different stages of your programme.



There are three major challenges you should embrace:

First improve your practices. Evaluation methodologies can pose some challenges to social enterprises. They require expertise, time and money, and also the indicator systems regarding social results and impacts are not fully developed yet. Nevertheless, there are user-friendly resources available, designed to support projects for vulnerable groups.

Therefore, secondly, you should catch up with these resources and other new tools:

  • Soft indicators. These help to demonstrate the progress made towards employability and provide a more accurate picture of the programme's success (see the Guide to Measuring Soft Outcomes and Distance Travelled or the Guide to Evaluating Employability Programmes).
  • These comprise measuring, among other aspects, personal development (confidence, self-esteem), basic work skills (literacy, money management) and core work skills (communication, ICT). They are being developed as a form of overcoming the recurring difficulty posed by the fact that political support programmes only value hard indicators (qualifications achieved, numbers getting a job), often hard to achieve by vulnerable groups.
  • There is a set of methodologies designed for organisations with a social mission (see the quality & impact toolkit for social enterprises or Mind Tools’ essential skills for an excellent career). Some are simple, others are more complex. The most frequently used are Social Accounting and Audit and Social Return On Investment. You may also take a look at the Outcomes Star – a methodology that allows measuring and therefore constitutes a useful tool for the support of progress towards change when working with vulnerable groups, such as the homeless or people suffering from mental illness.

Finally, you should be attentive on collecting clear evidences of your WIP’s social impact. Proving social results and impacts is becoming a regular requirement for private and public funding. The European Commission too is currently working on the development of operational instruments and evaluation metrics (see the EC Report on Strengthening Social Innovation in Europe).


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