Busting Some Evaluation Myths

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
  • Fun!

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.