Active Through Football - Evaluation brief



Active Through Football is an exciting new Sport England lottery-funded initiative delivered by the Football Foundation, aimed at increasing activity levels and creating sustained behaviour change through football in a place-based approach. 

£10 million of targeted revenue investment will be invested in up to 15* places over the next five years, with an aim of increasing activity levels in people aged 16+ from lower socio-economic groups (LSEG).

Key local stakeholders will come together as a consortium to create and deliver a plan for the Place. The plan will be based predominantly on delivery of recreational and informal small-sided football activity and developed through Community Engagement.

The concept of Active Through Football has been developed on the back of the target audience and football-related insights. These insights have informed the “What” we want to do and achieve via the programme. As a deeper understanding of the target audience is at the heart of the programme, the “how” we do things is particularly important to discover; so this can inform how the programme develops.

See below for more info on the programme, including the full prospectus, FAQs for prospective applicants and webinars, and examples of the insight that has informed the creation of the programme.
Active Through Football - homepage
Active Through Football - resources
Active Through Football - insight

* this is an estimate based on the programme budget. A greater number of grants could be awarded if budget allows.

Evaluation objective


The key focus of this initial phase of the evaluation (during the first two years of the programme) is to understand if and how the Active Through Football approach works and - just as importantly - understand what did not work so well; by gathering rich evidence from the local delivery partners across the 15 places to evidence successes and learn from failures. Findings from these learnings are to be shared in a way that not only informs overall programme delivery but also practically helps improve how the local delivery is undertaken, to help shape the programme during the initial two years. 

More broadly we also want an evaluation partner to enable us to understand the overall impact of the programme and create a blueprint for a successful approach, with the aim of using the findings to enable delivery to be scaled up and/or inform future programmes.

Theory of change


Below is our proposed Theory of Change (ToC) for the programme.  All grantees will need to show progress towards these outcomes, however, the KPIs are just examples at this stage. There will be consistent programme level and delivery level indicators to help capture overall impact, as well as unintended outcomes that come from each place and intervention. The initial focus of the evaluation partner will be on defining the programme level indicators and helping to shape the methodology to capture these. 

We will also be working with each grantee individually to set bespoke KPIs based on the programme they will be delivering. To do this we will work in tandem with our separate data system & collection partner to translate these into KPIs for each of the grantees, so this aspect will not need to be included as part of the evaluation proposal.

Active through football insights

Scope of the evaluation


As one of the key elements of the programme is around the community engagement and consortia approach, we would like these areas to be the focus of the evaluation. We believe that by ensuring grantees collect data through one central online M&E System, we will have access to most of the output/outcome data linked to the individual; such as their background; their engagement and their activity levels. However, it will be harder for us to understand the value of the community engagement and consortium approach - what did and didn’t work in each place. This is key to us having a better understanding of the ‘how’ the programme is being delivered so that we can improve future delivery. We, therefore, think the external evaluation would be better focused on the ‘Insight’ and ‘Community Ownership’ strands of the ToC, with a potential for more detailed analysis of our M&E data and long-term behaviour change being looked in years three-five towards the end of the programme life (so not a core focus for the evaluation partner at this point in time).

Some key areas we would want the evaluators to explore:

  • Success of different community engagement approaches and the effectiveness of our community engagement toolkit
  • Effectiveness of the targeted place-based approach
  • How has collaboration between stakeholders and consortium  been undertaken and what success has this had
  • What delivery elements have helped engage the local community
  • Success stories and examples of good practice (i.e. how best to improve targeted community engagement) and how this can be best fed back to local delivery
  • What additional impact is being made by local delivery partners, above and beyond the core outcomes
  • An overall view on ‘how’ the programme is being delivered and practical suggestions for improvement

As we see this programme as a new way of doing things, we do not want to be prescriptive in how to best evaluate the above. We are keen to understand your ideas and approaches and collaborate with you to build an evaluation plan to best suit our needs. Innovative approaches to evaluation will be welcomed. Hence, we are asking for a simple Expression of Interest at this stage outlining the methodology and approach you feel is best suited for a programme like this. From our perspective, we would just like to understand whether the Active Through Football approach works, what did not work, how we could scale this, and gather rich evidence from the local partners to show successes and learn from failures.

The evaluation outlined here will be for a period of two years. At the end of this evaluation phase, there will be potential to extend and explore other nuances within the final three years of the programme (such as long term behaviour change and longitudinal effects). So in summary the initial two years will focus more on ‘how’ well the programme is being delivered, whereas subsequent evaluation will focus more on the impact that the programme has achieved. We would welcome applications from consortiums from an evaluation perspective as well eg. an academic partner and an agency, although this is not mandatory.

Data collection


Whilst the focus of this evaluation brief is not on detailed data analysis, the following data will be available to the evaluation partner to help inform their thinking on the evaluation of the ‘Insight’ and ‘Community Ownership’ areas of the ToC.

1. Online M&E System
All grantees will be given access to the same central online monitoring, evaluation and learning tool. They will use the system to collect quantitative and qualitative data about their intervention in real-time. This will include participant demographics, individual journeys and case studies, attendances, session hours, surveys, photos and videos and contribution to outcomes. The Football Foundation will have access to an overarching account which will aggregate all data, allow the Foundation to set and see progress against KPIs and report against key metrics. The evaluation partner will also have access to the data held on the M&E System. A separate data system & collection partner will lead on the task of getting grantees to provide the data required, meaning the evaluation partner can just focus on making use of the data collected.

2. Other Data Sources
The Football Foundation also has a number of other tools and data sources that will be useful to the evaluation of the programme, and the evaluation partner will have access to these. Examples include Pitchfinder - which provides information on the location of the place where football takes place - and Local Football Facility Plans - which provides a pipeline of funded facilities that the Active Through Football programme may be delivered at.

The evaluation partner will also be encouraged to use national and local datasets such as census data, Active Lives etc. to add additional context, either sourced by yourselves or in partnership with the Football Foundation and other Funding Partners.

Instructions to Tenderers

  • This tender has a two-stage process. Firstly, the ‘Expression of Interest’ stage where you can outline your interest in working with us on this programme. Please submit your EOIs in no more than 3 pages clearly outlining your proposed methodology, timelines and budget as detailed below.
  • A shortlisting exercise will be undertaken by the project team, and successful candidates will then be asked to develop a more detailed proposal after initial feedback from the panel.
  • This second ‘proposal’ stage will run from Feb 2021-March 2021, with all candidates at this stage invited to an interview with the project team.
  • The successful candidate(s) will be expected to start the project in April 2021. The programme will officially kick off in May-June 2021.

Expressions of Interest

  • Why are you interested in this evaluation and how do you propose to address our objectives and key questions? (max 1 page)
  • What makes you think you can do it? What expertise, experience, and capacity do you have to pull it off? What added value do you bring? (max 1 page)
  • Who are you as an evaluation firm, an evaluator, or an evaluation team? What values, practices, and areas of expertise and specialization distinguish you from your competitors/colleagues? (max half a page)
  • What is the proposed two-year budget, and what other overheads or incidentals would apply? At this stage, we purposely have not set a budget, as we are keen to understand what approach you would take and what value for money this approach will bring. A more detailed breakdown of the budget will form part of the second stage for successful candidates (max half a page)
  • Please provide 2-3 executive summaries from recent evaluation reports you have conducted/led (Annexes)
  • You must complete and submit your tender response/proposal electronically by 22nd Jan 2021  to the following email: 
  • Any EOI delivered after the closing date and time for any reason may be discounted. Football Foundation and its Funding Partners are not responsible if all or part of your tender is not received.

Validity of offer


Please note that by submitting a tender response for consideration you are confirming that, as an officer for the company/organisation that you represent, you have read and understood the tender documents and that your offer to the Football Foundation and its Funding Partners is open for acceptance for 90 days from the tender closing date.


  • The Football Foundation and its Funding Partners reserves the right, in its absolute discretion, to cancel or suspend this tender process at any time and for any reason. If we need to do this, we will notify you in writing as soon as reasonably practicable.
  • Football Foundation and its Funding Partners are not responsible, and will not pay for any expenses or losses you incur during, but not limited to, the tender preparation, site visits, or clarification meetings.
  • Football Foundation and its Funding Partners are not bound to accept the highest-scoring or any of the tenders that are submitted.
  • All material issued in connection with this ITT shall remain the property of Football Foundation and its Funding Partners and shall be used only for the purpose of this procurement exercise.

Queries relating to the tender


If you need us to clarify the documentation or if you have further questions regarding the tender process, click the 'contact us' button below. We will try to respond to reasonable requests for further information within the timescale of the tender.

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