A learning organisation: how we evaluate our work

Comment on advice session:Thank you so much!!!! Excellent service!! Professionalism and great support/reassurance in helping us setting up charity.Comment on account examination feedback card: Thank you very much for examining our account and be patient with us. It is very good in checking and writing a details about anything.Comment on session feedback form: This has helped so much as I create the paper on my own and this has made the process much faster. Learning the tips and tricks not only speeds up my putting together of the bulletin (for example using a table rather than a hundred different text boxes!) but also makes it look proffesional and easier to read. You guys are amazing. Thank you.Comment on session feedback form: The support given was good, constructive advice on all aspects of setting up a Residents Association.  The follow up help available to achieve this will also be very much appreciated.Comment on session feedback form: Excellent session. It will help us on all levels, and great support throughout. All staff are great.Comment on session feedback form: She is very happy to help Oromo Community with an open hand. Thank you is too small. We appreciate your work.Comment on account examination feedback card: We very much value the service you give to our Residents Association. Thank you.Comment on account examination feedback card: The questions you ask each year have helped us to improve our accounting procedures so much that we now rarely receive any queries!

All our services have been developed over the years as a result of requests from local community groups, and learning from the experiences of our user groups is vitally important to us. It is how we know whether we are doing a good job, whether our services are meeting our aims and what we need to change. We actively seek feedback in all our work.

Our feedback and evaluation process draws together:

  • informal feedback from conversations and comment cards at the front desk
  • a snapshot survey every two years
  • evaluation forms sent to member groups after completing each substantial piece of support work or examination of accounts
  • case studies of the impact of our work
  • reflective discussions within our staff team
  • strategic discussion and policy decisions by the management committee

Our own survey

Every two years we ask every group who uses us over a four week period about their experience with us. We last did this in June and July 2018.

The full results of the survey were overwhelmingly positive. We had a high response rate (55%) and satisfaction with services was extremely high. Over 90% were very satisfied with most services.

Figures show we are also reaching small grass roots groups and groups who get no help elsewhere. The vast majority (85%) of user groups are run by volunteers, 88% have not received a grant from Brighton and Hove City Council and for two thirds of groups we are the only agency from which they get support.

Because the responses are so positive we ask groups whether there is anything they would change about the centre. We get a scattering of suggestions here – a bigger building, a Hove branch, more art on walls – but the two main issues raised are opening  hours and parking. Of these parking is always by far the biggest issue for groups with 24% mentioning it in 2018.

Following an extensive process of discussion, we concluded that it is not possible to extend our opening hours, but we did change our weekly closure day (for staff meetings and maintenance of equipment) from Monday to Wednesday. This was a change suggested by several people and allows groups to bring equipment back earlier after weekend events.

We also made a successful request to Brighton & Hove City Council for the installation of a loading bay in Tilbury Place. This has slightly eased the parking issues, particularly for people who need to use a vehicle to collect or return equipment.

Feedback from our member groups

Each time we carry out a piece of intensive support work for one of our member groups, we ask for feedback and comments. In 2019-20, we did xx examinations of accounts and xxx support sessions for our priority groups.

Examinations of accounts

“Thank you so much for doing our accounts. It’s good to know we always have someone friendly and reliable to help us. If it wasn’t for you, it would be a lot harder for us!”

East Brighton Bygones

We give groups a postcard to return with a rating of our work and any comments, when we complete the examination of their accounts. 51% of the cards we gave out were returned and 100% of these rated our work as excellent.

Support and advice

We ask for feedback when we have completed a substantial piece of work with a group, such as helping to draft a funding application, drawing up a project plan or advising a treasurer on book-keeping. Often, a single ‘job’ is carried out over a period of weeks, involving several visits, which are counted as separate sessions.

If we discuss an issue with a group briefly at the front desk (our Advice on Demand service), we don’t generally ask for written feedback.

In 2018-19, we completed 88 pieces of support work on which we asked for feedback. 63% of our feedback  forms were completed, and all but one of the groups responding rated the work as excellent and said that it made them more confident and their group work better.

Case studies

We produce occasional case studies to highlight particular aspects of our work.

Third Sector Investment Programme, 2017-20

As part of our monitoring for this funding from Brighton & Hove City Council, we produced the following case studies:

infographic showing statistics about the usage of the Resource Centre's print room in November 2019. 92 groups produced a total of 30,360 documents during the month, including 13,400 newsletters and 6,480 flyers and posters.

Clinical Commissioning Group, 2017

In 2017 we produced two case studies showing examples of small groups whose work makes an important but often unnoticed contribution to the health and wellbeing of local residents:

Money in Mind project

Our Money in Mind project was evaluated twice by independent consultants – half-way through the project in 2012 and again at the end of the project in 2014.

On both occasions, the consultants’ report concluded that:

  • Groups found the support offered by the Money in Mind project to be of excellent quality, and all beneficiaries would recommend the service to their colleagues and friends.
  • A large majority of groups who received support from the Money in Mind project reported that their skills, confidence and knowledge had improved following the support.
  • A majority of groups reported that they were better able to raise funds following the support they had received.

Three of the six case studies in each report featured groups who had received support from the Resource Centre (the other three had been supported by our project partners, Impact Initiatives). In the 2012 evaluation, these were:

In the 2014 evaluation, they were:

To read these case studies in context, and see the results of the online surveys, see the full 2012 evaluation report (PDF) and the final evaluation report produced in 2014.

Last updated: May 2021