Chris Sissons

Community Project Development Support

Quote of the month

September 2013

I'm working on a replacement for this site. Follow my progress at Community Web Design. This is an experimental site, watch out for the launch of the finished site in the near future. 

Chris Sissons

Ask Chris

1 January 2013

  • Why do we evaluate projects?
  • Do we need to collect evidence?
  • How do we collect it?
  • For whom?
  • When?
  • What do we do with it?
  • Will pictures of the event suffice?
  • Who should be involved?
  • How long should it take?
  • Examples of doing evaluations
  • Examples of bad practice
  • Examples of good practice
  • What would be the needs of the funders?
  • How long do we keep it?
  • Will it just gather dust on the shelf?

Charlie, W Yorkshire

Go to Ask Chris for my answer.

Ask Chris

This is a free service.  Make your question:

  • Not too easy. If you can do an online search first or find an answer in a book, then you don't need to ask me to do it for you.  However, I might be able to recommend a book or a website! 
  • Not too specific to your situation. If it is, you may need a non-directive consultancy session.  So, a question about a relationship that is having a negative impact on your project would not be appropriate. You could still contact me and we can discuss the issue off the website.
  • Of some interest to people likely to visit this website. 

These are guidelines. When I receive an enquiry I’ll reply and we can discuss the best way forward.

Here are some recent questions.


10 October 2012

As part of a non-adversarial way of radically addressing the structural inequalities in power, wealth and class in a typical British city.  I want to bring together very wealthy and very poor people into the same Participatory Action Research group. I can have no idea of outcomes.  My hunch/faith/experience is that when people are open with each other and share their story, powerful transformation takes place, first personal, then in a social contagion. I don't want people of the same tribe (e.g. all Christians). How on earth can I get such different people to come together at all in the first place? I think starting with people I know who know people at both extremes of power (e.g. Merchant Venturers at one end and community workers who know people on benefits, asylum seekers etc at the other) is of course useful but I'm curious to see what an open public call produces, alongside the inevitable and probably unimportant ridicule.

David Mowat, Bristol


  1. The key to this is to excite peoples' interest in the project.  Do you have any sympathetic reporters, local politicians, etc who might work with you to put together press releases, articles, on-air interviews?  If you're lucky enough to get some ridicule you might be home and dry.  It's all publicity.  The aim should be to find a group of people who want to be in on the project.
  2. Would it be possible to make use of the same sympathetic peoples' networks to target specific groups of people?  So, if you can time contact with target groups of wealthy and poor people to coincide with the general public announcement of the project, they might be thrilled to be invited to take part in something that is in the news.  How targeted your targeting needs to be depends on what you want.  You could target individuals if you have specific people in mind or you could invite groups to send representatives or invite all their members to take part. 
  3. The impression I get is that you want to select a balance of people who attend the meeting and you probably have limits on numbers.  A big publicity event (if it works) might mean you are flooded with applicants.  It may be worth considering using an on-line application process where people sign up to be kept informed and might receive a personal invite to take an active part once the selection process takes place.  People can sign up to be kept informed online and can opt to enter the selection process where they might complete a form similar to the equal opportunities forms you get with job applications.  This would ask questions to help you decide who attends the meeting.  You could say there will be more meetings if there is demand for them.  The advantage of this approach is you will have evidence of the interest there is in the project and a group of potential supporters who might comment on the results of the meeting.  However, you will need to consider whether the very poor might be excluded from the process if they don't have ICT access. There may be ways around this if, for example, you work with community groups on strategies to register and keep their members informed, eg through their newsletters. You might need to budget for this of course.
  4. Don't forget to mention they get lunch!  Also disabled facilities at the venue are worth a mention.