M&E… sounds a bit like Enemy doesn’t it!
It might well feel like that too when you’re asking volunteer coaches to record participants’ dates of birth and postcodes or complete a survey on a cold rainy night in November. “I’m here to coach not write essays” the familiar cry goes up. But of course, coaching has a purpose: to engage and inspire; to improve performances; and, in the sport for development sector, to change lives. So, at the end of the day, we need to know what difference it has made or how approaches could be adapted to achieve better results.
It might be better then, to think less about the process of M&E and more about the impact it can have and benefits it can bring.
Recording (or monitoring) participants’ gender might seem a bit pointless when your main interest is in keeping a gym full of kids happy while playing Badminton, but if it helps you notice (or evaluate) that girls only come to the ‘fun’ sessions with no competitive matches then you’ve learned a valuable lesson for future project design.
Capturing postcodes might seem like a waste of time when you are delivering gymnastics sessions at the local school until the neighbouring local authority with an interest in service expansion asks if you work with any of their residents and you are able to provide an accurate list.
You might wonder why you would ask coaches to record the attendance of your football club’s players at training sessions when you know they keep a mental note and factor that into team selection until you look at the patterns of attendance which reveal certain players not attending when a particular coach or player is present, highlighting possible safeguarding concerns.
Of course, when you can get this information stored electronically in a platform like Views, that is when things really come together and the story of your work, the difference it makes and the ways in which it can be improved start to surface. Rather than being the enemy, an M&E system can become the engine room of your project, helping you to manage and plan work as well as review performance in real-time, highlighting achievements in bite size form and potentially securing future funding.