How do I collect the right evidence to demonstrate the impact of community sport?

Understanding the context

In order to collect the right evidence to demonstrate impact, you need to be clear about what you are expecting to achieve.

Measurement and evaluation can be used to understand and demonstrate what a project has achieved (impact evaluation). It can also be used to explore how and why a project does or does not meet its aims and objectives, to feedback progress and to help influence a project’s development (process and formative evaluation).

The best approach to take will be different for each project. Therefore, when setting up measurement and evaluation arrangements, it’s important to consider:

What you would like to know?

  • What are you aiming to achieve with your project? For instance, who are you expecting to take part? How are you expecting them to change their behaviour?
  • What else might happen as a result of the project? For instance, wider impacts and unintended consequences

How you are going to find out what you need to know

  • What is the best way to collect the information you need?
  • Who will collect it?
  • How will they collect it?

How you will analyse and use the information

  • How will you analyse the information?
  • Will it influence the way the project, or any future work, is designed and run?
  • How will this work?

How you will share the information?

  • Who are the key partners and stakeholders that you need to share information with?
  • How and when will you share this information?

How can Sport England help?

  • Learn lessons from evaluation reports of our funded projects within targeted settings, such as higher or further education or Active Women in the Encouraging Take Up section
  • We are currently developing a health tool to help projects demonstrate health impacts. This tool will be released shortly
  • Follow the standard evaluation framework from the National Obesity Observatory (now part of Public Health England) as a best practice guide on evaluating physical activity interventions. The framework includes a checklist of essential and desirable criteria necessary to undertake a comprehensive and robust evaluation
  • There are lots of tools to help with measuring social impact available from organisations other than Sport England: for example, return on investment guidance and frameworks from the SROI Network or

What's the result?

These tools will help you to design a measurement approach to:

  • Find out if your aims and objectives have been achieved
  • Assess what else has been achieved (that is, the wider benefits)
  • Find out what went well and what could be improved
  • Influence a project’s development
  • Monitor progress
  • Feed back progress to everyone involved
  • Share learning with others
  • Help you make the case for future investment if you have demonstrated impact.