Evaluation of the EcoAction Community Funding Program

May 2009

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The following three recommendations are based on the evaluation findings and conclusions.

RECOMMENDATION #1: It is recommended that program forms and tools be improved to make them easier to understand and to use.
Evaluation findings show that, while clients were satisfied with the services received by EcoAction staff, they were less satisfied with the ease of understanding of program forms and tools.  In particular, funding applicants noted difficulties navigating the EcoAction website, understanding the application guide and eligibility criteria as well completing the application form.  Funded applicants also identified difficulties completing reporting forms used to monitor their projects.  

RECOMMENDATION #2: It is recommended that roles, responsibilities and processes be examined to identify opportunities for clarification and increased efficiencies.  
The EcoAction program was designed to fund projects at the community level with an emphasis on client service and this contributes to its higher administrative costs.  The identification of best practices, particularly in the regions, and areas where streamlining the delivery process might be possible could help to improve the overall efficiency of the program.  As well, the evaluation identified some uncertainty among program staff around roles and responsibilities in the decision-making process, especially regarding the role of the NCU in relation to the regions.  A clarification of the roles and responsibilities around current decision-making and accountability processes would help to ensure a common understanding and contribute to enhanced program delivery.      

RECOMMENDATION #3: It is recommended that current processes for defining environmental indicators for projects and for measuring, recording and using performance information be assessed to improve the ability of the program to demonstrate its results. 
It is difficult to capture the full performance story of the program because the performance measures and the processes for capturing these measures are weak.  The EcoAction program currently uses 56 different indicators to measure results for projects, which are too numerous and diverse to add much understanding on the achievement of program outcomes.  The difficulty in demonstrating program performance is further impeded by the way in which the data are gathered and recorded: the MIS, the central housing system for project information, is infrequently updated and data are missing on key project elements that would support the performance story.  In addition, relatively little is known about projects that continue after EcoAction funding ends, other than information from a few survey questions and some references in final reports submitted at project-end, despite the fact that one of the aims of the program is to encourage organizations to build sustainable projects.  Added together, these issues ultimately affect the program’s ability to demonstrate the longer-term impacts and benefits of funding sustainable community projects.

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