Sharing evidence of the impact of music with current and potential partners and funders
This blog is part of a series that begins here.
At Changing Tracks, we know that a great deal of outcome evidence on children and young people is gathered and never used, or only sent to funders. This is a real waste because if you take the time to write up your findings they can be used not only to inform the development of your work, but also as a basis for talking to existing and potential commissioners/funders of your services. Your case studies, anecdotes, or other material can show that you’re committed to meeting the needs of the young people they work with, you have a deep understanding of the impact you can make, and they might buy in your delivery as a result.
Here are some tips on using evaluation evidence to explain and advocate your work:
· Keep it short and simple: most importantly, your audiences will not want to read a long report. Keep it as short as you can (if necessarily linking to further information). Think about the information they’ll really be interested in (ask them if you can) and then put this up front, or make this the only information you share. If you can make it visually appealing even better. Unless you are professionally trained, avoid trying to design it yourself (yes, even if you do have Canva or Adobe!). Using a professional designer could make all the difference between someone bothering to read it, or ignoring it.
· Present your evidence as stories (ie case studies): These are helpful when you are talking to new settings, as most people respond to human stories and it will help them understand what the music leader does in sessions and the kind of experience their young people will have if they book you. Here’s an example:
Paul had been affected by family bereavement and when he first attended sessions he was very withdrawn. Over time Paul engaged with the music leaders and was able to express what he was feeling through the music. Paul’s Mum noticed the change in him and Pauls’ SENCO said ‘Paul never misses a Tuesday because he wants to be in the session.’ There is a useful Step-by-step guide to a case study that wins hearts and minds written by Anita Holford, who is part of the Changing Tracks team.
· Present your evidence as a film: Although filming children brings up ethical issues, you could ask a young person’s SENCO to talk on film about the effect on the young person, and what the school has learned about the impact of music. This would be persuasive for other SENCOs and schools looking for a way to support vulnerable children.· If you want to use statistics, present them last: Behaviour Change experts in fundraising suggest that people are rarely motivated to take action by statistics and sometimes this can get them into a mode of thinking which will prevent them from making a decision. Present statistics so they mean something and tell/reinforce your story, eg: Out of a sample size of 20, 91% of pupils felt that the music sessions were a safe supportive space for them and 99% felt a high level of trust for the delivery staff. 80% showed some progress towards resilience and 20% demonstrated significant development over time, which was noticed beyond the sessions by parents and the SENCO.