Invitation to Tender:

Evaluation of Comhlámh’s Irish Aid Programme 2017-2020 

TERMS OF REFERENCE

Evaluation of Comhlámh’s Irish Aid Programme 2017-2020 

1. BACKGRUND  

Comhlámh is the association of international volunteers and development workers. The association’s vision is of development workers and volunteers working in solidarity for a socially just, equitable and sustainable world, locally and globally.  Our mission is to nurture, guide and mobilise development workers and volunteers to work for social justice locally and globally. Comhlámh’s membership includes those within the international development/humanitarian sector; members of migrant communities and refugees and those who have not worked/lived in the Global South but who are working for development in Ireland from a global justice perspective. 

Comhlámh has completed a period of 4 years of Irish Aid funding, initially a 2-year Strategic Partnership, 2017-2018, that was extended yearly through 2019 and 2020.  

2. PURPOSE OF THE EVALUATION   

The purpose of the evaluation is to provide Comhlámh, our stakeholders and Irish Aid with an independent reflective assessment of the work of Comhlámh over the period of four years, in particular through the implementation of its Strategic Partnership and associated annual Results Frameworks agreed with Irish Aid.  

The main objective of this evaluation is to understand what has worked well, less well or could work better across our programming. It needs to include an assessment of the opportunities and limitations that have faced Comhlámh in light of the evolving changes in international volunteering practice. 

This evaluation will help inform the next strategic plan for Comhlámh by providing an assessment of the relevance and effectiveness of Comhlámh’s work to date, and by identifying outcomes and indicators that can help shape the development of these.   

3. SCOPE OF THE EVALUATION 

The title of the Irish Aid funded programme was ‘Supporting Good Practice in International Volunteering for Sustainable Development’.  Its overall objective was for Comhlámh to be Ireland’s leading voice and coordinator on international volunteering for sustainable development. 

Within this programme, there were 5 main outcomes: 

  • Potential volunteers make informed decisions about engaging with responsible international volunteering opportunities; 
  • Tailored education and training support volunteers to understand the wider context of development, and encourages continued learning and engagement; 
  • Volunteer sending agencies are supported to develop and implement standards of good practice; 
  • Development workers and volunteers are supported to sustain their work; 
  • Policy and practice on international volunteering from Ireland are informed by evidence-based research. 

The evaluation will cover the period from 2017 – 2020 as detailed above in the background information section.  

In particular, the evaluation will: 

  • Assess evidence of progress against the objectives and outcomes of the programme, including what has/hasn’t worked well in the delivery of the plan and reasons why;  
  • Assess progress in delivery of the benchmarks as set out in the Memorandum of Understanding; 
  • Assess the coherence and compatibility of our programme in the context of the wider sector; 
  • Assess the financial and operational use of given resources to deliver the programme; 
  • Provide recommendations for strengthened delivery of the programme, including financial and resource requirements. 

Specific questions that the evaluation may look at include:  

Relevance  

  • Were the indicators and activities relevant to the agreed objectives under the programme? 
  • Did the assumptions underlying the plan prove correct? 
  • Did Comhlámh have a clear role and focus in the programme of work? 
  • Did it focus on the correct themes and strategic challenges?  

Effectiveness  

  • What worked well, and why?  
  • Were the outputs and outcomes achieved, as identified in the results framework, and to what degree?  
  • Were the indicators appropriate and adequate in light of the desired outcomes?  
  • What were the main challenges or gaps in the delivery of the programme? Were they ‘known’ or new?  
  • What are the key lessons learned in the delivery of the programme?  

Efficiency  

  • Was the capacity of Comhlámh sufficient to deliver on the programme required?  
  • How have we managed our finances, and have we delivered value for money and efficiency?  
  • Was there sufficient oversight of the programme?  

Sustainability   

  • Can we clearly define our niche, and if not, why not?  
  • Did we pay adequate attention to sustainability in programme design? 
  • To what extent are the benefits of our interventions likely to continue? What role, if any, have our capacity building activities played in this regard? 
  • What could we have avoided and/or done differently?  
  • Which findings have most relevance for future sustainability?  

4. METHODOLOGY 

A detailed proposal of methodology should be included in the consultant(s) proposal. The process of gathering data for the evaluation should include consultation with key stakeholders and using a variety of creative and participatory processes including surveys, direct interviews and focus group discussions. Methodology will be further discussed with the successful consultant(s) and finalised in the inception phase.  We would envision a review of relevant documentation, including results frameworks and workplans, annual and financial reports and other relevant documents for the period covered by the Strategic Partnership.  

The evaluation should be planned to be conducted virtually, however hopefully there may be opportunities in the autumn for face-to-face encounters.  

Key stakeholders will include: Comhlámh staff and board, representatives of Volunteer Sending Agencies, and volunteers, relevant Department of Foreign Affairs officials, representatives of the Code of Good Practice Supporter Network, representatives of network bodies including Dóchas and the Irish Development Education Association and Forum.  

Administrative support to host zoom meetings, and administer any surveys will be provided.  

It is envisaged this evaluation will take no more than 15 days to complete.  

5. TIMING & DELIVERABLES

The evaluation should be completed by mid-November and the evaluation report should include an executive summary, with clear recommendations. The overall report should be no more than 30 pages in length.  

6. KEY REFERENCE DOCUMENTS & PROCESSES

The evaluation process should be cognisant of a number of related policy frameworks and processes that will need to be considered in tandem with the work of the evaluation: 

  • The Irish Government’s new International Development Policy, A Better World; 
  • Irish Aid’s Development Education Strategy 2017-2023; 
  • The Department of Rural and Community Development National Volunteering Policy – which includes an outcome on international volunteering; 
  • Comhlámh has undertaken and completed a Theory of Change process in 2020; 
  • There has been a major review and updating undertaken of the Code of Good Practice in 2018/19; 
  • Irish Aid commissioned a governance review of Comhlámh, which is due to report in July 2021; 
  • An evaluation of our Communications work was undertaken in 2018; 
  • Comhlámh Strategic Plan 2017-2021; 
  • Annual Reports, including financial reports and results-based frameworks together with associated feedback from DFA.  

7. CONSULTSNT/S SPECIFICATIONS

The consultant(s) should possess the following skills:  

  • Experience in conducting evaluations of programmes;  
  • Demonstrated track record in results-based monitoring and evaluation, organisational level performance management; 
  • Experience of working in or with networks; 
  • Experience of working in international volunteering; 
  • Knowledge of Development Education / Global Citizenship Education; 
  • Good project management skills; 
  • Research experience and the ability to analyse qualitative and quantitative data and compile and summarize results; 
  • Strong writing and communication skills; 
  • Strong relationship management skills; 
  • Adherence to agreed-upon timeframes and deadlines. 

8. APPLICATION PROCESS 

Consultant(s) are invited to submit a tender document, detailing the proposed approach to the evaluation including:  

  • Their understanding of the Terms of Reference;  
  • The relevance of their previous experience for this particular consultancy;  
  • A short methodology showing how they plan to approach the consultancy;  
  • Indicative timetable for the conduct and completion of the consultancy;  
  • Budget.  

The consultant(s) will be selected according to the following criteria: 

  • Understanding of the Terms of Reference; 
  • Proposed methodology and planning of the consultancy; 
  • Experience in conducting evaluations and strategic planning; 
  • Overall balance of skills being brought to the consultancy; 
  • Availability at the time required by Comhlámh; 
  • Overall quality of the proposal; 
  • Cost effectiveness. 

Tenders are to be submitted by Wednesday the 11th of August 2021 to Mark Cumming, Head of Comhlámh.  Tenders are to be emailed to [email protected] ‘Tender – Evaluation’ in the subject line of the email. 

Tenders will be reviewed and scored by an in-house committee made up of the Head of Comhlámh, the Programme Manager and a representative of the board. Selection of the consultant will take place by Wednesday the 18th August 2021.  

For queries contact Mark Cumming at [email protected]