Reporting is an important part of SPI's programming. We ask everyone to complete our partner survey, and depending on your program, we may also ask you to write a narrative report. Surveys and reports help us learn about your program, your goals, and how successful you've been at achieving those goals.
Your report also helps us to show our funders that we are using their money wisely. The seeds and support your program receives may have been paid for by donations from individual donors, businesses, or other charities. Just as you have to report to SPI, we have to report to our supporters and funders. If we can show that your program is a good investment, we can make a case for future funding for your program.
Why does the SPI want a report?
Why is program reporting useful for your group?
Evaluating your project can be really useful for your group. You need to give the funder the information they want, but the process of preparing an evaluation report can help you think about what worked, what didn’t work, and what you would do differently next time.
Try to involve as many people as possible in doing the report, as this will help get more ideas about the successes of your project and the problems you have faced. Remember what you’ve learned from these discussions when you are planning for the future so you can build on your successes and improve your program.
Before you start:
Check what you said you were going to do. Don’t panic if what you have actually done is slightly different from your original plans – we understand that plans change a bit as you go along.
Discuss the evaluation report with your group.
Your report will contain more useful information if you get ideas from a range of people. Discuss it at your staff and program participant meetings.
Writing Your Evaluation Report
Follow the steps below to write your report.
1. Describe what you did.
This should be a short description of your activities. Include figures showing how many people and groups received seeds, how many extension visits or trainings you held, and how many people attended your programs. For example:
“We organized a total of 12 extension visits to Bong and Lofa Counties. A total of 50 farmers attended these sessions, 25 men and 25 women.”
“We organized a nutrition and food preparation training which took place on 16th May 2016. The party was attended by 49 people in total, 3 of whom had not been involved with our group in the past.”
If your program is focused on running activities for a particular group of people, such as women or Ebola survivors, you should include information about how many people from that group took part.
2. Include any changes to your original plan.
It is quite common to make changes to your project plan as you go along. It’s difficult to know in advance exactly how things are going to work out. You might choose to change things if you work out a better way of doing them, or in response to requests from people taking part.
It is important to be open and honest about changes to your program. It shows you are trustworthy, and may also be an opportunity to show how the changes have been positive. For example:
“We originally planned to provide business planning training. However, after six weeks we had very few people taking part in business planning training, and nutrition training was full to capacity. In order to include as many people as possible and respond to the interests of the community, we decided to cancel the business planning training and run two weekly nutrition sessions instead.”
3. Explain how you collected information about your success.
Briefly describe what you did to collect information about how your work was going. This might include counting the number of people that took part, and asking them how your project benefited them.
“We kept a record of how many women and men attended each session.”
“We carried out a survey at the beginning and end of the project, so that we could measure how people felt about vegetable gardening and nutrition before and after they had attended the training.”
4. Tell us whether, and how, you achieved your goals.
Look back at your project goals and state whether you achieved your goals, and give any evidence you have. Make sure you also explain how your project matched up with SPI’s goals. For example, if you received seeds or other resources for your women’s empowerment project, explain how your project benefited women. Be sure to include a description of both the program goals and how you achieved those goals.
5. Account for how you spent the grant funds.
You need to provide a breakdown of how you have spent the grant money. If there is anything significantly different between how you said you would spend the grant and how it was actually spent, make sure you explain why it was different. For example:
$20 Contract Nutrition Trainer
$20 Training Materials
“We originally budgeted $20 for the Venue and $20 for Refreshments, but we decided to use a larger venue so more people could attend the training. The larger venue was $30, so we took money out of Refreshments and put it into Venue.”
6. Share photos, quotes, and other evidence from your project.
Photos, quotes, and other evidence of your work show the funder how much your community benefited from the project and brightens up your report. Sometimes photos are the only way for funders to visually connect with the work you’re doing. A good photo can change how someone feels about your report, so think about how you want other people to see your work and participants. This is a great way to tell your story!
Good photo examples include: seeds being distributed, land being cleared, planting activities, tending gardens, and harvest and market activities. If your project involved training people, you could include group pictures and a copy of a certificate. Remember to ask permission to use a photo from the people in the photo.
Quotes are also a great way of showing how much the project meant to people. If you conduct a survey, include a question which asks people to say why the project is important to them, or why they participate in the group activities and trainings. You can then use these quotes in your report. If you haven’t done a survey, you could ask a few people from the group to tell you what the project meant to them, and write down what they say.
Quotes that directly relate to the program goals and the impact of the program are best. Otherwise, a quote that shares how the project was important someone is good.
Example: “I really enjoy gardening. Since we just had our first baby girl, it has been so nice to be able to produce fresh vegetables for our family. Sometimes we eat the vegetables and if there are too many we sell it to others in the neighborhood. This allows us to save a little money to purchase other items that we need. Last yield, we harvested so many different variety types: cauliflower, zucchini, cabbage, and eggplant. You know what my favorite part of having a garden has been? Well, it is truly seeing that you are produce something from seed to vegetable. How beautiful it is to see the plant grow and turn into something that is edible. It makes me happy to be able to provide for my family.” - Mme. Jinja, Toamasina, Madagascar
Finish off your report with a short concluding statement that sums up what you have said and ends on a positive note. You can also mention the kinds of things you are thinking of doing in future. This is particularly important if you are hoping to receive additional support in the future. For example:
“As you can see, the seeds and funding you have provided has been very important for our group. We have run a successful project and this has really improved things for a lot of people in our community.”
“The seeds and funding you have provided our program has allowed us to build up our program and get more people involved. We have developed successful activities which we will continue in future. We have also gained valuable experience which will help us run new activities in the coming year. Our plan is to increase the number of training provided, so that we attract a wider range of people, and to focus especially on activities that are focused on women’s empowerment.”
A young garden grown from SPI seed by St. Barnabas Center near Cap Haitien, Haiti.
Of the more than 25 vegetable seed types offered by SPI to our partners, some are less common or unfamiliar to some programs and regions. One of SPI’s most important roles can be to share lessons learned (including both successes and failures) among our partner networks. In this spirit, we’ll try to highlight a vegetable type or variety in each partner newsletter. Today’s feature is chinese cabbage.
The photo above shows an impressive young garden grown from SPI seed by St. Barnabas Center which trains agronomy students near Cap Haitien, Haiti. Chinese cabbage of the pak choi type is the leafy green in the front of the photo. These plants may be only 2-3 weeks old. This is what our partners like most about chinese cabbage: it grows more quickly than almost any other vegetable into something healthy that tastes good cooked or raw! You can pick the largest outer leaves to eat and the plant will keep growing; when fully mature around 30-40 days, the stem of each pak choi leaf will be a thick, white, juicy rib. The leaves are softer and milder-tasting than collards, mustard greens, or kale.
Chinese cabbage is a member of the Brassica family of vegetables, all of which do prefer cooler temperatures and ample water. You can see a garden hose in this photo which shows that St. Barnabas Center has access to a well or cistern. But chinese cabbage is a little more heat-tolerant than some Brassicas and it is fast growing. So, even in a dry season it is possible to carry water to a small garden plot of chinese cabbage a few times a week and keep the plants happy. People short on water may then wish to pick and eat the leaves early so that the water-use burden on their homes is reduced. People wishing to sell chinese cabbage at market will want to let the plants grow to a larger size. The mature plants will stay fresher in transport and storage.
Yves Mary Etienne, a Haitian economist, pulls bok choy from the test plot and gives it to a woman from the community to sell at a local market.
Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service
At St. Barnabas, agronomy students, who come from rural families and may find it difficult to afford further education, are able to sell school garden harvests to contribute to their school fees. The photo above shows mature pak choi picked from the same garden, from an article provided by Episcopal News Service.
SPI aims to always have a chinese cabbage available to our partners, but it is not always the pak choi type. Right now we have in stock seed for a napa cabbage type. It grows a tighter, upright head which is pale green. It looks a little different, but the use is about the same. Look for pak choi to come into our catalog later in 2017.
Copan Department, Honduras is a mountainous region famous for its pre-Colombian archaeological site and beautiful landscapes. But in late 2015, the government of Copan declared a famine emergency as ongoing drought led to widespread loss of three most important crops for income and nutrition: corn, beans, and coffee. In this context, fresh vegetables grown in gardens at home (where scarce water is carried anyway) provide essential nutrition and income. This is the site of one of SPI’s most remarkable partnerships—remarkable in terms of how many hands, hearts, and wallets contribute to its success.
It Takes a Team
Here’s the amazing story of how SPI seeds reach families in Copan:
190 families in 15 villages received seeds for vegetables including mustard greens, spinach, carrots, onions, and squash. Training was provided on topics ranging from terracing the steep land, to planting and transplanting technique, to organic fertilizer sources. In the end, our program partners actually counted and weighed the harvest:
What a tremendous haul—credit is due to the hard-working gardeners and their trainers for achieving this harvest in a time of drought and general famine.
If you are a Rotarian, or know one, either in the US or abroad, you can have a similar impact. Apply today to get seeds from Rotarians Against Hunger. The 2016 deadline is right around the corner.
Over a year has passed since the Ebola outbreak began in West Africa. After 14 years of civil war and this further, significant disruption to the social and civic infrastructure, Liberia is faced with the task of rebuilding the social services that are crucial for continued survival. Living in the wake of the outbreak poses a unique set of challenges that often cannot be addressed by any one group. Life will never be the same for survivors, and the first steps toward stability include meeting basic needs, like having access to nutritional foods.
Most of us are single parents left with children to support. The Ebola virus out-breaks have increased our problems. Most of the women here are supporting Orphans who parents died from the Ebola virus, we don’t have any skill and are not letter [able to read and write]. — Maima
One of the many problems that surfaces during trauma counseling is the question of basic sustenance or inadequate food for mothers and children. When a person is traumatized, one of the ways to avoid a relapse when under psychosocial treatment is to ensure that their basic needs are met. — Ms. Miatta, Church Aid’s Women’s Empowerment Program Director
SPI recently coordinated a stakeholder meeting for our gardening program in Liberia, hosted by Christine Norman, Mayor of Bentol City and Executive Director of SPI partner organization REAP. This collaborative gathering is a testament that hope is emerging for the families and communities who continue to struggle with the long-term effects of Ebola.
Bringing together SPI’s Liberia partners and other community-based organizations in Liberia who support small-scale farmers and gardeners, the group collectively assessed their needs, challenges, solutions, and resources in order to maximize the collective efforts and reach of this program. Based on this assessment, working groups were created to develop training programs and recruit trainers, integrate women’s empowerment, and coordinate seed distribution and extension visits.
Just giving women the same access as men to agricultural resources could increase production on women's farms in developing countries by 20 to 30 percent. — FAO
In addition to working groups, partners also created action plans to ensure that women are included in the project’s decision-making and governance structures. Courageous woman are taking the lead in disaster relief, and gardens are no exception!
The First Seeds
Project partners will initially receive 20,000 seed packets to be distributed among their networks. The program itself will focus on training and supplies, which will begin to address the needs outlined by the project partners and participants:
SPI should extend to other parts of the country and expand partnerships, so as to reach out to ever farmers in most effected communities. — David, Food Bank Liberia
I would like to recommend that SPI conduct more training for farmers in seeds management and productions. — Joseph, Movement For The Promotion Of Primary & Secondary Education
I recommend that there should be additional training for partner to continue building their capacity. — Ansumanah, Restoring Our Children’s Hope
We're planning a follow-up meeting in six months, where we’ll gauge the progress of the project participants and make any course-corrective changes necessary to improve collaboration, inclusion, and reach. As this program develops, we hope to seed a broader conversation that continues encouraging women’s empowerment and sparks collective action by our partner organizations and their recipients.
If you'd like to help us continue this work, consider giving through our GlobalGiving campaigns.
After Ebola, Gardens Help Rebuild Lives: Working with three in-country partners to reach those most isolated by poverty and disease, we are providing more than 25,000 packets of tested, appropriate vegetable seeds, along with support and training.
Seeds and Skills for Women to Grow Vegetables: We join with women's gardening efforts in the most impoverished countries worldwide, including Madagascar, Guatemala, and Liberia. By providing top-quality vegetable seeds and locally-driven support, seed programs give women a path to empowerment, income, and nutrition.