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Impact Report: how do we evaluate our impact?

Monitoring and Evaluation Manager Niki Kalyvides on how we evaluate our work, following the publication of our Impact Report.

Published: 15th May 2023

This year, we are publishing our first ever impact report, setting out what we have done and achieved since we were set up.

As a new Centre, established in 2019, with wide ranging objectives, learning from and adapting our approach has been paramount to the delivery of our activities. My role at the Centre has been focused on designing and implementing data collection and analysis to allow us to understand our impact and learn from our challenges and reflections, to help us do better.

We’ve sought views from many people who have worked with us in different ways about our progress and what we can do better. The impact report presents what we heard from these groups, including research teams we have funded, people with lived experience of modern slavery we have worked with, and policymakers, businesses, and other decision makers we aim to influence. It also shares some of the lessons we have learned over the period, that we hope would be useful to others working on modern slavery policy and research.

Monitoring and evaluating the work of the Centre is not straightforward. The impact of our work, and how far we have achieved what we set out to do is not easily quantifiable and can be thought of differently depending on people’s perspectives and expectations. There is also no direct comparator in terms of all the work we do, though we have built productive relationships with other organisations seeking to make similar impacts in different areas.

We have found developing a Theory of Change to be a very helpful process for defining the impact we want to have. Our Theory of Change presents our vision, the outcomes we have set out to achieve, as well as the activities and outputs we hope will deliver these. Our values (independent, inclusive, transparent, rigorous and collaborative) and principles (effectiveness, equity and survivor involvement) apply to all. Developing this Theory of Change has also helped us identify what data we want to collect, how and from whom.

As a result, we have used a variety of tools including management systems, surveys and interviews with different people who have worked with us, to understand and demonstrate the impact we have had. Though this can never be fully comprehensive and there have been challenges along the way, the data we have gathered has been critical for the Centre to deliver our work and continuously improve our processes and practices. We are very grateful to all those who have contributed to this.

Though a simple diagram, in reality there is a lot of overlap between the elements set out which has meant we have combined what we have collected to demonstrate our impact. Activities and outputs contribute in different ways and to different extents to our outcomes, and some elements are both ends in themselves as well as enablers of others. For example, survivor inclusion in research is both an important way of improving equity, as well as for informing on evidence gaps.

At the same time, we are working within an ‘ecosystem’ which brings with it opportunities and challenges, which have affected the progress we have made. For example, our report highlights the effect of a changing and uncertain political environment and the availability of data and information on modern slavery on what we have been able to do.

Nonetheless, almost all of the people we consulted were very positive about the Centre. Positive characteristics identified include the Centre’s multilateral stakeholder approach, responsiveness of our activities to policy priorities, staff expertise and usefulness of research outputs produced by funded research teams and the Centre. You can read about the specific impacts of our work in the report, but there are three learnings that underlie them all.

  1. The importance of building relationships and facilitating connections between different groups working on modern slavery policy, research and practice, including those with lived experience of modern slavery, and those working closely with them. In our work we have worked closely with research teams with diverse expertise, policymakers from many different departments, businesses, NGOs and survivor groups as well as individuals with lived experience of modern slavery. We have benefitted from a wealth of expertise and have been able to better tailor our activities to their needs and objectives – ameliorating our impact.
  2. Being honest about limitations and challenges we have faced, whether that be through published outputs, public events and workshops, or in informal discussions with others, has helped create an open environment for information sharing and learnings about best practice. Dedicating resource and establishing forums and systems for the exchange of knowledge and information has been vital for us to be able to improve our work, and achieve impact, based on best practices.
  3. The need for continuous assessment and improvement. We have learned invaluable lessons from a diversity of people we have worked with, whether that be core staff, funded research team members, decision makers we’re seeking to influence, or people with lived experience of modern slavery who have participated in the Centre’s opportunities. Listening to others and learning from them is key to us improving, so if you have any feedback on this impact report or blog, you can contact me directly at n.kalyvides@modernslaverypec.org.