The DOEN international culture programme has revised its monitoring procedure drastically in 2010-2011. The following guidelines are to explain why we did this revision and what kind of reporting we expect from you from now on.
The reason to revise our monitoring policy was twofold:
- We wanted to have more information on the impact of the activities we finance, instead of only receiving information about the activities themselves. Our new approach will help us to understand you and your environment better and consequently improve our work.
- We wanted to find a way of monitoring that is close to the nature of the activities we finance, but at the same time does not put an unnecessary burden on the organizations we finance. Since we are accountable to our funders (the three Dutch Charity lotteries) and the Dutch lottery buyer as well, we also have to deliver some standard information which we cannot influence.
The elements of our monitoring requests, or what you need to deliver:
1. Short narrative report on the agreed 6 indicators (see indicators and reporting schedule in your contract with DOEN) according to the DOEN format. This format can be found here http://www.doen.nl/web/about-DOEN/Report-Form.htm and then choose ‘Report form Culture and Media International’; we would be pleased if you can send it as a Word document;
2. Yearly financial report + external audit (the latter in case your subsidy is more than EUR 25.000 or your yearly budget is more than EUR 100.000);
3. Number of Most Significant Change Stories (amount see contract);
4. 10 images per year of artworks and/or program activities.
Each year a selected number of organizations will be visited by our team to discuss in depth the above mentioned elements of our monitoring requests.
Why Most Significant Change Stories?
We wish to monitor not only whether activities have taken place, but also the impact they have had on the users of that activity. Therefore we have started working with a light version of the so called ‘Most Significant Change methodology’ developed by Rick Davies and Jess Dart. This is a qualitative methodology for monitoring which is close to the nature of cultural activities, because it puts storytelling at its heart.
The bases of this methodology is the collection of so called ‘Most Significant Change (MSC) Stories’ that describe positive and negative changes that users of cultural activities have experienced as a result of participating in a specific cultural activity. According to the MSC methodology these stories should then be reviewed and categorized into so called ‘domains of change’ by groups of people (eg. cultural organisations (you), staff members of DOEN etc.) to analyze what progress or change has been made on a more general level.
In 2010 we executed an intensive evaluation in Kenya, Mali, Uganda and Senegal during which this methodology was carried out in all its detail. As a result the organizations involved defined certain ‘domains of change’ for each of these countries, that are now the bases of our general policy. This process has been very inspiring but also very intensive for everyone involved in it. Therefore we decided to continue collecting stories, analyze them within DOEN, but only occasionally organize analyzing sessions with the organizations we work with (of course if you feel a specific necessity to organize such a session within your country, we are most willing to facilitate or support that).
How to collect a story?
The delivery of these stories is the most important aspect of our monitoring agreement with you, so please read the following steps carefully and make sure you deliver your stories yearly.
Step 1: choose participants
1. Before you start with your initiative (festival, training, workshop etc.) choose randomly the participants of your cultural activity who are willing to write a MSC story. You can think of: participants in a workshop or training you organize, participants in a festival (artists, musicians, dancers), journalists or people from the audience that attend your activity. A combination of different participants would be ideal. The amount of participants you choose, should correspond with the amount of stories that we request from you. You can find this amount in your contract.
2. After having selected these names, please send them to us, together with information to contact them eventually (e-mail and/or telephone numbers as appropriate).
3. After your initiative has taken place, approach your proposed participants and ask them to write down their story or request them for an interview.
Step 2: writing the story / taking the interview
To write down the story or to take the interview, use the following questions as a guiding principle:
• To what activity organized by which organization does the story relate?
• What was the most positive change that you have experienced in relation to the cultural or artistic activity organized by this organization? Why was this change so significant?
• What was the most negative change that you have experienced in relation to the cultural or
artistic activity organized by this organization? Why was this change so significant?
The information about most significant positive and negative changes provides us with a more complex glance at your own reality, which will help us to better understand the obstacles and opportunities the sector you work in is facing.
It might happen that a storyteller talks about positive and negative aspects of one single change he/she experienced. For instance, a visual artist might explain:
“The visibility I gained as an artist has opened up new opportunities for me that boosted my career to the point I can now live out of my art. However, this positive change has put a lot of pressure on my creative process and made me feel isolated from the local art world, since this was a personal change that has not affected the sector as a whole.”
The story can either be written down by the participants themselves, or by the person/organization who is taking the interview. The participants are free in writing their story and in the length of the text. However, it is your responsibility to make sure that they are answering the monitoring questions and talking about a most significant change. The story can either be written in French or English.
In any case, please keep in mind that you are contributing to a monitoring process that will help both your organization and ours to work better. You should see yourself as a harvester or collector of stories and not as an editor or promoter. Please do not interfere with the meaning by editing the story. KEEP IT SIMPLE.
Finally, if you come across a MSC story that either you and/or your storyteller would rather not share online, please let us know and we will guarantee confidentiality.
Step 3: finalizing the story
• Make sure you ask the storyteller for a title for his/her story.
• Add the date, place, and the name of the author and the names of other people that might be in the story;
• Ask the storyteller to provide or choose one or several images to illustrate or clarify the story.
Step 4: Upload the story on www.doenculture.com
Once the stories are finalized, it is the responsibility of the organizations to collect the stories and to upload these on www.doenculture.com. The participants can also upload the stories on the website themselves, but then they first need to create a profile on the website. In any case, remember to offer confidentiality to the storyteller, and make sure that he/she want their most significant change story to be published. This can be especially relevant in the case of stories that talk about the most negative change they have experienced.
If you already have a profile, go to section 2.
1. Sign up on www.doenculture.com and create a profile.
When creating a personal profile it is useful to fill in as much information as possible so that others can find and connect to your interests. Please add your place of residence so people can search by location. You can also add an image to your profile to make it more visually appealing. Once you are logged in and want to create a page for your organization, go to ‘contributions’ and then choose ‘add an organization’, subsequently follow the steps in the wizard. Keep in mind that an e-mail address can only be linked to one profile on the website, so if you create a profile for an organization a different e-mail address is necessary. We have already added a few organizations to the website, for those that have previously participated in the evaluation. If you are associated with these organizations, feel free to edit or update the information. You can use the search box in the top right corner of the screen to locate items in the site.
2. Upload your story
Once you have logged in on the website, click on ‘contributions’, then choose ‘add a story’ and follow the steps in the wizard. Once you enter the steps in the wizard, there is also a possibility to upload an image to make the story more appealing. After you have finalized all the steps in the wizard, click on ‘finish’ and your story will appear on the site.
Please find below an example of a Most Significant Change story, with its components commented for your benefit. It will hopefully give you an idea of what type of information you should be looking for.