Green Revolutions - a Big Venture Challenge case study

Posted on November 20, 2017

James Rowntree

Green Revolutions, a social enterprise working for the benefit of its local community, aims to make clean, green driving accessible and affordable for all.

Founded by Sandra Green, the organisation operates a Co-Wheels Car Club in Birmingham, as part of the Co-Wheels UK network, providing car access to those who would otherwise be unable to afford a car. Driving Green Revolution’s mission is the idea that when people have the choice to not own a car, they are open to other, healthier, transport options, like walking and cycling. Members of their Co-Wheels Car Club also feel better connected to their local communities, which in turn have safer streets and better air quality.

Big Venture Challenge

Since it began, Big Venture Challenge has supported 120 social ventures – with business support, useful network connections and match funding – to help them raise investment and deliver social impact at scale.

Within the programme, The Social Innovation Partnership (TSIP) worked with BVC participants to build and strengthen their organisation’s evaluation approach, in order to maintain and increase their impact.

Our support comprised three main phases: firstly, assessing each venture’s current evidence of impact and evaluation capability, and making recommendations for improvements; secondly, helping ventures to develop their monitoring and evaluation capacity and generate an evaluation plan; and, thirdly, advising ventures on how to implement and sustain their monitoring and evaluation practices long term.

The Evaluation Challenge

Given the nature of their business, Green Revolutions were focused especially on measuring their environmental and social impact. Not having a lot of resources, however, they had found it hard to systematically collect the evidence they wanted and were unsure about where to start – with the capacity they had.

Through workshops and regular one-to-one meetings and support, Green Revolutions worked with the TSIP team to break down the evaluation process, and develop their approach step by step.

Working with TSIP

Green Revolutions drew on a social impact report they’d develop with an intern with Birmingham University as the starting point for their work with TSIP. Together, they began by producing a Theory of Change and taking another look at the surveys and other evaluation tools that Green Revolutions were using.

I really enjoyed the workshop on evaluation design. I hadn’t expected to, but it really clarified things for me and enabled me to start to think through what we needed to use our evaluation approach to do.

Sandra Green, Director, Green Revolutions CIC

Acknowledging how much of an intellectual challenge this process felt at first, Green Revolutions reviewed their evaluation tools with TSIP – streamlining their overall evaluation approach and questions to ensure their measurements were robust, clear and practical.

It was a challenge trying to fit this around my day-to-day job at first, but – with TSIP’s support I was able to do it. Wherever our information or questions were vague or unclear, TSIP pushed, and worked with me, to clarify what was needed and ensure that I could back up what we were saying about our impact.

Sandra Green, Director, Green Revolutions CIC

With this help and guidance, and a lot of hard work, Green Revolutions were able to produce a Theory of Change to help them scale up their social impact, an evaluation plan and a feedback survey. Green Revolutions found TSIP’s support invaluable.

I wouldn’t have been able to do it without TSIP’s support. Whether through phone calls or meetings, I was able to work side-by-side with the TSIP consultant to generate ideas and work my way through this stuff.

Sandra Green, Director, Green Revolutions CIC

Crucially, Green Revolutions felt more confident that they had the skills and capacity: to implement these tools themselves; do the analysis required in a practical way; and know that the information and insights generated stood up.

This really filled a missing piece of the puzzle for us as a social enterprise, enabling us to get to grips with actually measuring and communicating our social and environmental impact effectively.

Sandra Green, Director, Green Revolutions CIC

Looking Forward

Green Revolutions are looking to make what they’ve learnt count. Since the programme, they’ve aligned their evaluation plan with their resourcing and annual timetable. The team are also making sure that they capture stories and evidence to help them reach and inspire potential customers, as well as generate publicity.

I really appreciated how tenacious and patient my TSIP contact was. When it got hard to fit this work in the timescales needed, I could rely on her to gently prompt me. I knew there was someone there, helping me to get to grips with evaluation and hold my hand as I got the work done. It helped make this whole process a lot more enjoyable that I thought it would be.

Sandra Green, Director, Green Revolutions CIC