After the event! The evaluation…

Timber was a beautiful glorious weekend, bathed in summer sunshine. You can watch the film to see it in all its glory. But then the serious stuff, the evaluation!

Did it do what you wanted it to?

Hopefully you’ll get to the other side of your event and be incredibly proud of what you’ve achieved, however big or small. A good evaluation will help you understand what worked well and what didn’t work, as well as helping you demonstrate your successes to any stakeholders involved.

And if you get it right it can help you make much more informed decisions for future events, about everything from programming to communications and logistics,  help you allocate your resources more wisely and help with robust evidence for future funding applications.

Depending on whether your event is ticketed or not you will already have a certain amount of data about who your audience are. It’s a good idea to collate this so you have some aggregate information about the geography of where your audience are coming from, average age,  how they found out about the event – this will all help with future marketing and give you something to benchmark against in future years.

You may also want to collect more qualitative information about peoples quality of experience, or perhaps evidence of the economic impact of your event.

There are lots of different ways of collecting data/evaluation, here are just a few:

– box office/ticket sales
– social media comments
– on site photo’s/video
– on site, encouraging volunteers and staff to report anecdotal feedback and comments they hear or are told.
– on site –  things like memory trees or comments walls can be a more creative way to gather this info and for people to share their feedback with other audience members.
– feedback forms after the event (online surveys – we use survey monkey)  Try not to make them too long and onerous and think about incentivising people to complete them, perhaps a competition to win tickets to a future event?
– collating press reviews
– more intimate focus groups to gain more in-depth opinions and enter into conversations where you can probe a little deeper.

For Timber festival we’re doing all of the above plus we’re also working with Derby University to see if we can accumulate data about how the festival impacts on people’s sense of connection to the natural world – which really gets to the core of why we’re producing the event and asking if we’re having the relational impact we’re hoping for.

And whilst much of our evaluation is focussed on our audience’s experience it’s important to remember to evaluate the opinions of everyone involved, volunteers, performers, vendors, staff, sponsors, press etc…

And once you’ve gathered all your info really think about what you can use it for and how it can help you to tell the story of your event and your organisation.

There are loads of great resources available to help you hone your own approach to evaluation, including some good evaluation framework templates,  here are some that we have referred to in the past.