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Sport for development M&E and research mapping


Sport for development M&E and research mapping

We talk a lot about the need for gathering evidence on the impact of sport for development projects, and now there seems to be quite some work going on in the sector to capture evidence, but how are we sharing and learning from what is out there?

In July 2010, UK Sport convened a meeting of UK-based organisations working in the sport-for-development sector to discuss interest in and understanding of M&E, learning and research. The M&E group meetings, chaired by Myles Wickstead, trustee of International Inspiration, have been established to share information on pertinent issues surrounding M&E and to enhance collaboration accross the sector.

As a result of the discussions it became clear that significant investment has been made in developing an ‘evidence base’, but there was no clear overview of work. We wanted to take stock of past and current activities. As such, Comic Relief agreed to lead on the mapping of existing and current investment in M&E, learning and research. This would be useful to all involved in order to provide a baseline of information from which potential gaps, overlaps, opportunities for collaboration and more could be identified.

Comic Relief commissioned Orla Cronin to undertake a mapping exercise, which looked at the research on sport-for-development programmes undertaken since 2005 or is currently being undertaken by a selected group of organisations in the UK and internationally. In addition, to map the M&E toolkits and databases developed or under development for dissemination amongst sport-for-development organisations. This then gave the focus to the UK Sport hosted M&E group meeting held in June 2011.

Orla Cronin gave an overview of the mapping and presented the group with key findings. Her presentation clearly laid strategic directions and practical issues became apparent. Although the mapping exercise presented is not an exhaustive list, it does represent an overview of the sector. Interestingly much of the research focuses on individual development, although programme outcomes almost always talk about community or societal positive changes.

To measure the impact on the community is difficult, but we as a sector need to be thinking more innovatively about how we can explore this area further. As one participant mentioned "the absence of evdidence is not the problem, organisations are gathering data all the time, it may be that we struggle to understand what that data is telling us."

Jonathan Dudding from ICA:UK facilitated the afternoon and in the context of the report, the group explored the areas of problem identification, knowledge generation and knowledge use. What developed out of this is a checklist for any organisation or individual to use or adapt to their organisation when thinking about starting or even already in the process of managing/ implementing a research project. It is available to download here in draft form for you to use as you wish.

Thematic gaps also emerged from the mapping and the final exercise from the meeting where the group was asked to list current, planned and desired projects. From this crude task it also became apparent that there were gaps particularly around:

  • Economic Empowerment
  • Gender equity
  • Disability
  • Community/ societal impact
  • Cost-benefit analysis/ Social Return on Investment

These projects have been collated and are available to view, edit and add from the link to the Google doc. We hope that this will enhance collaboration and those projects planned, current and desired have been entered by organisations willing to discuss further partnership or input.

View the downloadable files for an in-depth understanding of the research conducted and presentation given at the M&E meeting group.


Article type



UK Sport


Monday, June 20, 2011 - 23:00