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Published -
December 9, 2021

Evaluation in times of uncertainty: applying learning from COVID-19

In July 2020, we launched our £6.4m COVID-19 Learning Project for organisations based in England and Wales. The grant had two aims: first, to provide targeted support to young people at risk of being involved in violence; and second, to learn fast about the best ways to reach vulnerable young people during a period of social distancing.


Our Learning Partners produced this Insights Brief to help organisations working with children and young people, as well as their funders and evaluators.

It provides advice for organisations about how to get ready for evaluation. It also includes recommendations for funders and commissioners, so that they can better support their grantees.

The Brief is based on existing evidence and the experiences of more than 100 organisations that have been funded by the Youth Endowment Fund’s (YEF) £6.4m COVID-19 Learning Project. Each of them has shared what they’ve learned through adapting their work to continue supporting young people through the COVID-19 pandemic.

We hope this brief will help you build capacity and skills for evaluation. By learning about what works, we can make sure that children and young people get the services the deserve.

How organisations can get ready for evaluation

  • Generate simple but clear descriptions of their services and their Theory of Change (which explains how the activities they provide lead to the change they want to see for the children and young people they work with)  
  • Develop long-term learning agendas, to make sure that growing and improving is always part of their work  
  • Investing in their practitioners, to help them improve their evaluation skills.  

How evaluators, commissioners and funders can support the organisations they work with

  • Support the services they work with through basic evaluation training and help to develop long-term evaluation plans  
  • Consider funding for embedding evaluation and research capacity within provider teams (for example, researchers-in-residence).