How to use other people’s evidence in your application

Evidence from Elsewhere bookletPolicy & Public Affairs Adviser Cath Logan shares her top tips on using other people’s evidence in your funding application…

If you’re applying for funding, it’s always important to build up evidence to show that what you are planning will work.

Whether you are hoping to carry out activities you’ve never run before, or want to gather more information in support of your existing activities, you may wish to consider using secondary evidence – or ‘Evidence from Elsewhere.’

Secondary evidence is anything that has been generated by someone other than yourself or your organisation, such as academic research or a charity’s evaluation report.

It can be useful for persuading funders to fund approaches or activities you haven’t tried before, by showing it has worked elsewhere. Secondary evidence can also be used alongside your own primary evidence (i.e. any evidence you have gathered about your organisation’s own activities) to strengthen your application.

The Knowledge Translation Network, of which I am a member, recently launched the guide ‘Evidence from Elsewhere: Gathering, analysing and using other people’s evidence’. This guide is aimed at anyone in the third sector who wants to use secondary evidence to influence and improve policy or practice, or both.

In writing the guide, we came up with ten top tips for gathering evidence from elsewhere:

Tip #1: Be clear about why you are gathering the evidence, what questions you want answered, how you’ll do it, and who your audience will be

Tip #2: Develop a realistic plan to gather evidence, leaving yourself enough time

Tip #3: Don’t work in isolation, involve others in your organisation or elsewhere

Tip #4: Consider the skills in your organisation, and whether you might need some training or support

Tip #5: Know when enough is enough – recognise when you have enough evidence of sufficient quality (this may be trial and error at first!)

Tip #6: Be aware of your biases – resist the urge to ‘cherry pick’ evidence that fits

Tip #7: Consider context – only select evidence relevant to your place, time or set of circumstances; ignore those which are not

Tip #8: Use your findings in the right way for you – there are many formats and channels for sharing your findings, how you do it will depend on your question and audience

Tip #9: It’s not a linear process – you might discover things that cause you to rethink or revisit earlier evidence or questions

Tip #10: Use the handy infographic included in the guide (and below) to keep you right!

Evidence from Elsewhere infographic

The guide has lots of more in-depth advice and information for you to dip in and out of. Alongside more detail on these top tips, we also explore the importance of secondary evidence, the steps involved in gathering and making sense of it, and resources to help you access it.

I hope you learn as much from reading the guide (available to download here) as I did helping to write it, and that it acts as a useful reference for you when you’re using secondary evidence in a funding application. Don’t forget to enjoy the cartoons as well!

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