‘Without proper evaluation, failure is inevitable’ – John Wooden

Evaluation is necessary to provide insights that will aid in better strategic planning, decision making, program modification, and reporting.

You can evaluate yourself, your business, your programs, your activities, your processes, your employees – think of evaluation as an appraisal. Everything needs to be appraised for growth and sustainability to occur.

When we evaluate programs or activities, we call it Program Evaluation or Impact Evaluation research. For example, if your company engages in activities that are intended to empower or improve the conditions of people and the environment, you will need to evaluate the success of this program as this will shed light on how well the program is performing and what needs to be improved on.

Program/Impact Evaluation is essential because it:

  1. Demonstrates accountability
  2. Improves performance
  3. Increases the ability to obtain funds
  4. Fulfills the organizational objectives
  5. And it is positively linked to other functions (e.g. marketing, communications

So how do we conduct Program/Impact Evaluation?

  1. Create an Evaluation Plan where you detail what you will be evaluated (description), why you will be performing the evaluation (background), and who wants the evaluation (stakeholders).
  2. Choose an Evaluation Type. There are four types of evaluation
    1. Formative Evaluation happens in the early stages of the program or before the activities have commenced. It assesses the nature of the program, the needs the program is addressing, and the implementation plan.
    2. Process Evaluation happens during the program. It monitors the program to ensure it is being implemented as planned and on time.
    3. Summative Evaluation looks at the outcome of the program. It is an overall assessment of the effectiveness and accomplishments of the program.
    4. Outcome Evaluation is focused primarily on the specific outcomes and occurrences after the program. It checks to see if the program achieved its intended objectives, and other effects it had on the recipients of the program.
  3. Identify your Evaluation Indicators. Evaluation Indicators are the measurement units that show the extent of the project’s progress, success, or achievements. These could be qualitative indicators (such as feedback on the effectiveness of program) or quantitative indicators (such as knowledge test scores after the program) or output indicators (such as the number of charitable or nonprofit organizations engaged).
  4. Design Evaluation Questions, which are similar to research questions. These are the key questions that you need to answer to ensure you understand the impact of your program or activities. For example, what lessons can we learn from how the project is unfolding? Is the program reaching the intended number of participants?
  5. Select your Evaluation Tools; you have the choice of quantitative (surveys) or qualitative (focus groups, in-depth interviews, observations)tools.
  6. Go into Field! Once you have created a plan, chosen a type, identified what you will be measuring, designed your questions and selected a tool, it is time to go out there and start speaking to the recipients of your program or activities, the stakeholders and those who are implementing the program or activities.

After the Evaluation is completed, the findings can be communicated to your team members, the board of directors, users, funders, the public and other stakeholders.

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Program Evaluation Guide for Non-Profit Organizations by Fataneh Zarinpoush