Measuring transition: an important survey
By Ben Brangwyn 19th July 2012
Do you know how much of a difference your initiative is making?
Measuring different aspects of how your initiative is doing can help in many areas:
- longer term support from local government (and funders) almost always requires some kind of metrics indicating impact
- it helps us work out which areas you can become more effective in, and how to proceed
- it helps recruit people into the initiative
- it can be a superb basis for an appealing and thought-provoking press article
- it can really help convert naysayers into supporters
- it can bring a real sense of achievement and motivation to a group
- it can combat the burnout that results from not being able to answer the question “are we really making a difference here?”
It doesn’t necessarily mean conducting a huge academic study – you’re probably already doing some kind of evaluating when, for example, you count how many people attended an event, or when you collect feedback after events.
But it’s definitely an area with a lot of unanswered questions – What are the best things to measure? How can we evaluate our impact? What are the best tools for helping us measure x, y or z? How can we use a class of schoolkids to help us gather feedback?
Well, we’re in luck.
A small group of researchers (each of whom has been involved long term in Transition or carbon-reduction programmes) have a cunning plan to provide some really practical and valuable help in this area. They’re intending to apply for Research Council funding to set up a pilot with some Transition Initiatives and Low Carbon Communities to answer those questions, and more. They’ll develop and pilot self-evaluation processes that will work across the broadest and most diverse range of initiatives, and that can be done with minimal resources. Over time, these evaluations can be added together to create a “bigger picture” of the achievements of the Transition and Low Carbon movements.
To kick off this process that will lead to the funding application, we (researchers, Transition Network, Low Carbon Communities) have put together an online questionnaire. It’s the crucial first step in establishing needs, priorities and what is already going on in terms of evaluation. If the subsequent Research Council bid is successful, any Transition Initiatives and Low Carbon Communities that sign up for the pilot will benefit significantly from the team’s expertise and close involvement during the trial.
The survey takes around 10 minutes, and all information gathered through it will be treated anonymously. Quotes and/or comments may be used in reports, but will not be attributed to any group or individual.
Big thanks to Jo Hamilton and Ruth Mayne for pulling this together, and it’s good to be working with the others in this consortium:
- Low Carbon Communities Network
- University of Liverpool
- Transition Research Network