When people think of “evaluation” they imagine endless paperwork ending in boring reports. Horrible, right? I believe that evaluation can be a lot more satisfying for everyone involved.
Evaluation CAN (and often SHOULD) BE:
- A systematic approach to answering questions about a program or project that takes into account values and judgment about success
- A way to figure out whether a program or project did what it said it would do
- Inclusive and relevant for stakeholders – program participants, staff, oversight and funders
- An opportunity to reflect on how a group or organization can do better at what they already do
- A plan for checking that a program or project is on track to achieving its goals
- A great way to show funders that a program or project is using their resources responsibly
Contrary to popular beliefs, evaluation DOESN’T HAVE TO BE:
- Started after a project or program is completed
- Limited to a logic model, outcomes framework, performance measurement, dashboard, etc
- Yet another task to complete at the end of the fiscal year
- A huge amount of additional time and work on top of the everyday load
- A bunch of forms and worksheets that get filled in and then put into a file cabinet
- A boring report that sits on a shelf
The key to successful and satisfying evaluations is to focus on one big question: What are we trying to achieve?
Karen Snyder, PhD MPH brings her background in anthropology and public health to support non-profit organizations and government agencies to achieve their goals through participatory assessment, research and evaluation. In 2011,clients included Red Road HIV/AIDS Network Society, BC Cancer Agency, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, and Hollyburn Family Services Society.