Last week, the staff team at Body & Soul took some time away from our weekly schedule of Tuesday and Thursday programming, casework, fundraising, advocacy, volunteer management and campaigning and spent three days looking back on the past year and talking about how we could improve and grow in the year ahead.
As ever, the many-headed monster of M&E was never far from our thoughts. Many of you might be familiar with the “pressure” that we can feel to record every little thing that we do in a working day and some of you may also shiver slightly when the words are said aloud.
We spent a quick warm-up activity “re-branding” M&E, with the aim of reminding ourselves why it’s so important for both our organisation and our members – we need to be accountable, informed and aware of when we’ve succeeded and when we have room to improve.
In true Body & Soul style, we like to come up with creative and reflective names for what we do so some of the thoughts we had included:
We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments boxes below.
We’ve been talking a lot about bravery at Body & Soul recently and this word came into play again in our conversation. Someone suggested that “no-one ever fails in the voluntary sector” – or at least we don’t hear about it when they do and that there can sometimes be an external “pressure to do what makes you look good”.
But we agreed that valuable M&E, objective, reflective and critical acknowledgement of our successes and failures, requires us to be candid and honest, but also brave. These are the kind of stories we want to tell at Body & Soul.
In the words of our Social Worker Emile, “there’s no point in M&E unless you’re doing it brutally, honestly and accurately.”
In increasingly difficult financial times for Body & Soul, we’ve made a commitment to telling the truth, to the pursuit of better.
Later this week, we’ll be launching our new Impact Report, which is full of stories that I, for one, can’t wait for you all to read.