Evaluating the impact of your event
Evaluating your event helps to improve the organisation of future events. It is important to link the evaluation to the objective of the event: If the objective was networking, it is useful to focus on whether participants were able to expand their network. If the objective was innovation adoption, organisers need to monitor the participant’s inclination to adopt the demonstrated innovation.
Feedback can be gathered on the set-up (programme, lo- cations, facilities, topic, ...) and organisation of the demo, but also on what participants have learned, and what they believe to be applicable for their farm:
Shorter term: “What do visitors take home?"
- Know-why (motivation, raised awareness): participants are aware that there are specific problems or challenges and/or that new options are available and may be needed in the future
- Know-what (the demo topic): participants are informed on specific novelties (new practices, materials, varieties, machinery, etc.)
- Know-how: participants can connect the new information to their own practice and are able to assess possibilities to implement it on their own farm
Longer term: “What do visitors do with what they have taken home?”
This impact rarely comes from a demo alone, and is less straightforward to evaluate, because of the time lag. It takes time for participants to make actual changes in their farming practice, since it might require financial investments, new skills and knowledge, and a readjustment in the farmer’s usual routine and mind-set. The actual decision for change is also not influenced solely by the demonstration event, but includes a wide array of other information sources, such as publications in (agricultur- al) press, follow-up demo events, workshops, newsletters, contacts with advisors, other farmers, etc.
You can do the evaluation in different ways, such as:
- Informal talks with participants during the demo event
- Facilitated participant feedback during the demo event, using forms or based on discussions
- Evaluation forms sent to the participants afterwards. The risk of exit polls is that they are often completed too quickly when people are in a hurry to talk to other people or to go home.
- Follow-up emails or telephone calls. If wanting to assess impact, you can wait a couple of weeks, or even months for a follow-up telephone call.
- Evaluation forms for the demo organisers, to be completed during the demo event
Acting on the evaluation is important to improve future on-farm demonstration. So once the evaluation has been gathered it needs to be shared and improvements for future activities need to be implemented.
Use only a few and relevant questions. A questionnaire with many questions will be harder to get people to complete.
You are more likely to have success in collecting feedback on the day, than after- wards through email.