Insights & Research

Peyton Rose Slattery Holtz Semau Playing SNAG Golf At The 2019 Saint Kentigern Halberg Adapted Sports Day

We know good decision-making relies on access to good data. That’s why we use data to understand key trends and inform all our strategic decision-making.

Auckland is one of the world’s most diverse cities, with a rapidly growing population and changing demographics. Our partnership with Active Citizens’ Worldwide means we benchmark Auckland against other major cities such as Singapore and London.

It’s important that Aktive has the knowledge, insights and research to respond and adapt to these changes, and that we share what we know with the sector.


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What is evidence of need?

Simply put – what evidence or information do you have that the project you want to deliver is needed or wanted by the organisation/community/people you intend to deliver it to. (See Identifying Need for more information). 

What is impact?

Impact is a marked effect or influence on someone or something. 

'Impact' in this situation is how your project changed or influenced the people you delivered it to. This can be an organisation, a community, or individuals within the community. 

An impact may be seen as an immediate effect or can be more long-term. It may be positive, negative, intended, unintended, direct, or indirect. It is important to report all types of impact observed.  

To observe an impact, you need to measure the situation before and after the project. You need to consider whether the change observed would have happened if your project had not taken place. 

What are insights?

After you have collected your data, you need to analyse it. From that analysis, you will gain insights. 

Insights are: 

  • Your understanding of why something is or is not happening, based on the data you captured and analysed, 

  • Contextual, i.e. they apply to the situation and environment the data were captured in, 

  • Not just information or data: By asking the right question and analysing the data you get back you can find the story behind the raw data. That may be an exploration into barriers/enablers, motivation, or key influencing factors. 

Once you have your insights, you can: 

  • Evaluate the project, 

  • Make changes that would improve your project or help plan a new project, 

  • Report your findings/progress to stakeholders, 

  • Use them as evidence of need (if you have captured this). 

Note: Best practice is to complete the above list for every project. 

What is monitoring?

Monitoring is a systematic process to collect and analyse data/information. Data are then used to track the progress of a project in terms of whether it is reaching its goal.  

Monitoring is generally focused on processes and helps guide decision-making about the project before it starts and as it is rolled out and delivered. Monitoring the impact of the project helps to keep it on track, and makes sure resources are being used effectively and efficiently. 

Although monitoring happens after the project has begun, it is important to include data capture processes in the planning stage so you can ensure you are capturing the right data from the right people at the right time. 

What is evaluation?

Evaluation is a systematic assessment that focuses on the performance of a project. This happens after you analyse your data and have been informed by your insights. You use your analysis to evaluate whether you have achieved the goal/s set out in your plan. Therefore, it is important that the goal of the project is defined before you start. 

Evaluation can help to understand the following aspects related to the project: 

  • Relevance (i.e. did it fit the needs of your target group?) 

  • Effectiveness (i.e. did the project make a measurable difference to the target group – this means you need to measure the change?) 

  • Impact (e.g. how many people/organisations did it reach? Did the participants benefit from it?) 

  • How sustainable the delivery is (e.g. does it always have to be delivered by your team? Or can others be taught to deliver it?) 

  • How much did the project contribute to the overall result (i.e. would the observed changes have happened anyway without the project?) 

  • Can the project be scaled up or replicated in other situations? 

  • Did the project have any unexpected results (good and bad)? 

  • Did you achieve the results in a cost-effective way? (e.g. considering factors such as volunteer time). 

Evaluation should be based on evidence and provide information that is reliable, credible, and useful for informing future decisions. Therefore, it is crucial to think about data capture and analysis as part of your plan and ensure you are collecting the right type of data. 

Identifying Need

What are the needs?

Many investors will be looking to fund projects that meet needs in the community that are not already being met. Aligning your project with this need is more likely to result in a funded and successful project that has a positive impact. 

When applying for funding, it is important to read the criteria for a successful application. For example, by visiting Aktive’s website for more information when applying for Tū Manawa Active Aotearoa funding. 

It is important to take a strengths-based approach when identifying the needs a community may have. This means that the challenges a community may face are not ignored, and are addressed by focusing on the strengths of the community. This is crucial to consider when identifying need and developing a project. 

When to identify the need?

This should be the first step even before the planning stage begins, otherwise how do you know what to plan for or what to ask for in funding applications? 

If this is a follow-up project based on a pilot study, you may have identified different needs during the pilot from those you started with. These can be used to help refine/improve the project. 

What are you trying to identify?

The needs of the people or community you want to support. 

Questions you may need to ask include: 

  • What is the gap, problem or challenge the community has?* 
  • How do you know this? What evidence do you have? 
  • What makes it worse? (Barriers) 
  • What makes it better? (Enablers) 
  • What opportunities does this present you? 
  • What are the potential solutions you can think of? 
  • Of those potential solutions, what can you realistically do? 

*This can help identify the baseline from which you can measure change (impact) of the intervention. It can also help to frame your project aims. Keep in mind that these gaps/problems are challenges that are felt by the community but are not intrinsic to the community itself. 

How to identify a need?

Ask the potential participants. To do this you can: 

  • Hold a hui/meeting, 

  • Conduct simple surveys, 

  • Hold focus group discussions. 

Ensure you ask the people likely to participate in the activities (i.e. the people you want to benefit from the project). 

Why do you need to identify need?

  • It will provide evidence to support a funding application, 

  • It will help you to align your solution to the problem/gap, 

  • It is part of a locally-led approach, 

  • It will provide information you can use to write the project objectives, 

  • It will provide information to help frame a plan. 


What is a plan?

There are several types of plans. In this section, we will discuss how to develop a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) plan for your specific projects. If you are looking for a toolkit for a general plan relating to a club/code, please click here. 

An M&E plan is a framework that will help indicate what pieces of evidence you need to collect to show whether the project was successful. In your plan, you will need to include details such as who needs to collect the evidence, and who they will collect it from. 

This will help keep the project on track and ensure milestones are being achieved on time and efficiently. Importantly, it will identify if and when changes are required to the processes and/or the activities delivered for improvement. 

An M&E plan should also take into consideration any reporting requirements that the project has. This includes interim and final reports to key stakeholders (e.g. the Chief Executive, the Board, funders). Knowing this will help you call out the type of information you need to gather and when.   

Making an M&E plan

The monitoring and evaluation (M&E) plan or framework should be written before the project starts. 

Before you can write this plan, you will need to know: 

  • What your objective (e.g. goals, outcomes, etc.) is, 
  • How your intended activities correlate to your objectives, 
  • How you will measure the impact of these activities against your objective (see Measures for more information), 
  • The overall timing of the project, 
  • Who needs to be involved. 

In this plan, the following steps should be included, and responsibilities should be assigned to someone specific: 


What pieces of information do you need to collect? 


What method(s) will best capture the information you need (see Data Collection). 


Once the information has been collected, it may need some editing so it appears similar (e.g., incomplete answers, outliers, separate multiple pieces of information such as responses vs respondents). 

This will enable filtering, sorting, and comparing. 


Depending on the type of data collected (qualitative vs quantitative) there will be different methods and tools to use (see Data Analysis). 


What insights can you identify based on the analysed information linked back to the need you identified and how your project addressed this. 


When deciding how to present data you need to consider the audience and the requirements for the report/presentation (see Reporting). 


Completing the steps within the plan will give you a clear outline and a milestone pathway for a successful project. It will also highlight if there are any gaps you need to address. 

In addition, a simple high-level planning process based on the Planning Triangle could be useful. This method is a simple way of drilling down from the overall aim to the objectives, asking appropriate questions, and gathering evidence along the way. The example in the resource is guidance for how this process applies to the sport sector. 


A measure is something that can show the result of an action. It can also be called an indicator. There are several types of measures: 

  1. Outcome measures 

  2. Output measures

  3. Impact measures. 

Measures can be quantitative (numbers-based) or qualitative (experience-based). See “Data Collection”  for a more detailed description. 

Types of measure

Outcome Measures 
Outcome measures are metrics that demonstrate change and should work towards the major outcome you are aiming for. 
Outcome measures include: 

  • Growth in organisational capacity and capability,
  • Key decision makers demonstrating support for your cause, 
  • Reported enjoyment of participants,
    Feedback from key stakeholders on partnerships and networks. 

Output Measures 
Output measures capture “how much” was done or provided.  
Output measures include: 

  • The number of things e.g. participants, workshops, opportunities provided, people trained, 
  • Meetings held with key stakeholders,
  • Production of things e.g. work plans, guidance documents, list of the identified resources. 

Impact Measures 
Impact measures show the difference your activities have made to the community. This is sometimes referred to as the “so what?” question - how has this project impacted the targeted community? 
There are several types of impact (positive and negative, direct and indirect, intentional and unintentional). It is important to report all findings of impact measures, even if they are not what you initially set out to do. 

When measuring impact, we need to consider: 

  • What has changed? 
  • How significant was the change?
  • Who experienced this change? 
  • Is this change sustainable? 
  • How did you contribute? 
  • Would it have happened without your intervention? 

Impact measures include: 

  • Increased opportunities for a specific group of people to be active, 
  • An improvement in the quality of activity experience for a specific group of people, 
  • Sustained financial viability for a specific organisation, 
  • A decrease in the inactivity rates of a specific demographic. 

Questions to think about when deciding on measures

  • What do you or your organisation/funder need to know? 
    (These questions are often stated in the contract or a reporting template/schedule). 

  • What do you need to measure to answer the questions in the contract/reporting template? 
    (This will give you an idea of the type of measurements you need, e.g. output, outcome, impact or a combination of several). 

  • How do you measure the impact you are trying to have? 
    (This will help you to understand what type of data collection you need to plan for, e.g. an attendance list, poll asking for enjoyment level, testimonial regarding the event). 

  • Is your measure possible to collect information for? 
    (e.g., if you have chosen a measure that requires you to collect large amount of data, do you have the resource/time to do this?). 

  • Where are you starting from? 
    (Where appropriate, you need to measure a baseline so you can measure the amount of change). 

  • Bonus level: Is it possible to collect information from this project to help guide future projects? 
    (For example, if you are working in a school you could ask “If you could do any activity within your school, what would be on your wish list?”) 

Data Collection

What is data collection?

When we talk about data collection, what we are often referring to is research methods (i.e., how you carry out your research, and how you collect your data). Different research methods use different tools and techniques. To decide which is the right tool for the job, you first have to know what your objectives are (see Planning) and what you are trying to measure. 

It is best practice to only collect the data you need and will use, store the data securely, and explicitly address your data sovereignty responsibilities (e.g. who owns the data, and how you use, protect and honour the data you have collected). 

During the planning stage, it is important to assign the job of data collection (and data analysis) to someone. This could be a shared or individual responsibility.  

Since there are many ways to collect data, we have created a dedicated resource on the different methods you can use. 

Do you want to capture qualitative or quantitative data?

Qualitative research is focused on collecting lived-experience data and helps us explore why things happen. It is descriptive and uses words rather than numbers, and can capture emotions and perceptions of an individual about an event or topic. 

This type of data can be gathered through tools or techniques such as interviews, focus groups, observations, and open-ended questions in surveys. 

Quantitative research is focused on collecting numerical data – the "how many", "how often" and "how much" questions. This type of data can be gathered through questionnaires, polls, observations, etc., and helps us quantify the impact (change) of a project. 

If you want to collect both qualitative and quantitative data, this is called 'mixed methods research.' Collecting both types of data provides a more holistic picture: Combining statistical data with deeper contextual data. 

Who do you collect data from?

Who you collect data from depends on the questions you are trying to answer. These would have been decided during your planning. For example, if you want to know whether your coach development course helped the coach deliver better sessions to rangatahi, it may be better to ask the rangatahi rather than the coach. 

When do you collect data?

This should also be included in your plan. Some options include: 

  • Before the start/at the start: This is your baseline (a starting point used for comparisons). 

  • During the project: By collecting data, and evaluating it as you go, you can implement changes to your project to make it more effective. 

  • At the end of the project: This is your result – by comparing this to your baseline, you will have some evidence to show the impact of your project. 

During your planning, think about when you will need to collect data, and make a timeline for collecting it. 

Data Analysis

What is data analysis?

Data analysis, or data interpretation, is the process of making meaning from your data (e.g., finding insights). Depending on the data you have collected, how you have collected it, and what types of insights you want to find, you will need to use a variety of data analysis methods. 

During the planning stage, it is important to assign the job of data analysis (and data collection) to someone. This could be a shared or individual responsibility. 

Since there are many ways to analyse data, we have created a dedicated resource on the different methods you can use. 

When to analyse (mid-project/end-of-project)?

This should also be included in your plan. Some options include: 

  • During the project: You can analyse data while the project is still ongoing, to evaluate how effective your project is and/or if you need to make any changes to make it more effective. 

  • At the end of the project: By analysing the data you collected throughout the project, you can see how impactful it was, because your analysis will provide evidence of this. 

Primary and secondary data analysis

Primary data is information you have collected. However, you can also analyse secondary data, which is information that someone else collected (e.g. from national/regional/local surveys). This analysis might be done before you start a project, to find evidence of need, or to provide some baselines. 


Reporting is one of the most important steps in the process of any project. It provides the opportunity to show how much work has been completed, as well as the successes, the impact, and the learning (insights) related to that work. These are all important to ensure continued funding support and to enhance the quality of future projects.  

In most cases, reporting is a mandatory requirement for investors. Sometimes the report may be to other stakeholders in relation to a pilot project, where information gathering is required before a scale-up project is implemented. In each case, the information reported should be relevant and useful to the reader and focused on the project. 

What should I report?

Reporting should tell the story of the outputs and activities you have performed as part of the project, and the overall impact the project had. Importantly, this story should show how well you have performed in relation to your intended objective. These may be immediate, or mid to long-term, depending on the report timing. 

In most cases, an investor or other key stakeholder will ask for certain information (data) to be included in the report. This may include both quantitative and qualitative data. 

Quantitative data are essentially numbers and can include: 

  • Age of participants, 

  • Number of events, 

  • Number of participants, 

  • Percent satisfaction. 

Qualitative data are essentially descriptive information and can include: 

  • Diary/log accounts of the experience, 

  • Case studies, 

  • Transcriptions from focus groups interviews, 

  • Observations (e.g. written descriptions of characteristics like weight, age, and engagement). Observations can also be presented as: photographs, and videos. 

See Data Collection and Data Analysis for further information. 

How do I present the information in the report?

In many cases a report has a structured “template” associated with it that will ask for specific pieces of information. Often there are additional instructions relating to: 

  • The word or character limit (do not exceed these they are there for a purpose), 
  • The format (e.g. words, graphs, tables, testimonials, images), 
  • The perspective (e.g. from the participant’s view, from the deliverer’s view etc). 

When should I write the report?

In all cases, a report will have deadlines. These are set down in the contract so ensure you note them. Importantly, the deadline is set to allow further important processes to take place once you have finished the report. This could include investor meetings to decide on further funding. It could be that your report is contributing to a larger report and collation of all contributors is required before submission. 

Planning when to write the report is important. Start at the overall deadline and work backwards. Never plan to finish on the day of deadline – always leave some wiggle room just in case. 

Creating a reporting timeline

Considerations should include: 

The people involved in providing the data you need for the report:

  • How long will it take for them to gather all the data required? 
  • Is there a need to forecast?
  • How will they present the data? 
  • What is their availability leading up to the deadlines? 

The people involved in writing the report: 

  • Will it be written by one or many people (consider collation time)? 
  • Will they receive the information in the appropriate format for the report?
  • What is their availability leading up to the deadline? 

The people involved in reviewing the report (this is important and cannot be missed): 

  • How many people need to review the report?
  • At what stage does each review need to take place (timeline and review order)?
  • What is their availability leading up to the deadline? 

The number of working days available to write (also considering any relevant public holidays/annual leave), 

The reporting period (don’t report activities outside the period). 

The reporting timeline and the people responsible should also be considered within the evaluation plan as part of the lifecycle of the project. 

Aktive Research

Aktive’s Strategic Plan 2040 Issues Paper

As part of Aktive’s Strategic Plan 2040, this issues paper’s purpose is to understand the issues, challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. It’s a starting point for discussion, debate and new thinking about the types of sport and recreation opportunities Aucklanders will need over the next 20 years.

Stakeholder Survey 2020

Return to Play Survey 2020

Covid-19 Sector Support Survey 2020

Organised Sport Survey 2019

Auckland Coach Support Survey 2019

Sector Support Survey 2019

Howick Communities Research 2019

Lived Experience Personas 2023

This deep-dive, qualitative study was commissioned to better understand the lived experience of our target groups, in particular: Kōhine/girls aged 11 to 18 years and of Māori, Chinese, Indian and Pasifika ethnicities. We were specifically interested in their experiences relating to play, active recreation, physical education, and sport.

Partnering with Active Citizens Worldwide

What is Active Citizens Worldwide?

Auckland is one of three founding cities of the Active Citizens Worldwide (ACW) project; the first system providing decision makers in cities across the world with relevant knowledge, insights and ideas to change the physical activity profiles of their cities.

ACW is a global initiative set up to help cities across the world achieve a positive step-change in the physical activity levels of its citizens, through multi-city collaboration, best-practice sharing and global benchmarking. ACW provides world cities, like Auckland, with a deep, fact-based understanding of what drives activity levels of citizens.


Active Citizens Worldwide 2019 Annual Report

Auckland 2019 Report

Sport New Zealand Research

Insights Tool

This tool provides information on demographics, demographics trends, participation data from the Active NZ survey, information on sport in schools from the New Zealand Secondary Schools Sports Council data, as well as health information from the Ministry of Health.

Value of Sport Report

This report explores the value of sport to New Zealanders, their communities and our country.

Voice of Participant Survey

Sport NZ’s club experience survey has been developed for NSOs to understand club level player experiences and how they might adapt to meet people’s changing needs.

Sport NZ Future of Sport Report

This report looks at New Zealand’s future over 2015 to 2039 and the opportunities and challenges for sport.

2018 Active NZ Survey Findings

Results from the latest Active NZ survey which looks at participation in sport and active recreation.

Other Useful Research

Growing Up in NZ

This longitudinal study tracks the development of approximately 7,000 New Zealand children from before birth until they are young adults. The latest report is on middle childhood.

Population Trends

Statistics NZ project that Auckland’s population will grow from 1.6 million in 2016, to 1.9-2.1 million in 2028, and 2.0-2.6 million in 2043.  These projections are based on assumptions around births, deaths and immigration and the range represents various scenarios.

Knowledge Auckland

A collection of research, information, analysis and data about Auckland's communities, economy and environment.

Healthy Auckland Together Scorecard 2019

This report monitors how Auckland’s environment is contributing to the obesity levels of Aucklanders.

Ministry of Health NZ

A collection of resources to help promote physical activity in New Zealanders.

World Health Organisation Physical Activity Resources

Resources on physical activity from the World Health Organisation.

Auckland Sport and Recreation Strategic Action Plan

The Auckland Sport and Recreation Strategic Action Plan (ASARSAP) sets out:

  • A common vision for improving sport and recreation across Auckland
  • The actions that must be taken to achieve this vision
  • The role the council and other organisations will play.

Active Transport Research

Auckland Transport produces an annual report on levels of walking and cycling in Auckland.