What is evaluation?
Evaluation is a research process that systematically assesses a program’s or initiative’s components in relation to its short-term and long-term goals. It measures progress towards these goals in the beginning, or later stages of the implementation of a program or initiative. Evaluation is often done regularly as initiatives and programs grow, change, or simply continue operating.
Why should I invest in evaluation?
The data collected through the evaluation process will supply your organization with invaluable information about how well your organization is achieving its goals and utilizing its resources towards your program or initiative. This process will also provide your organization with data-driven recommendations to guide strategic growth and development, and ultimately maximize its benefit to the people it aims to serve. Evidence-based outcomes can be used to promote a program’s success, increase funding potential, and serve as a foundation for policy advocacy.
As a small organization, how can I get started in evaluation?
When beginning your organization’s evaluation, it is important to start small and get clarity on the purpose (e.g., report to a funder, for strategic planning, programmatic development, or service improvement, etc.) and focus of the evaluation. The next step is determining the questions you want the evaluation to answer, including if or how stakeholders will be involved. Consideration should be given to scaffolding of evaluation activities to build up to a larger outcomes or an impact evaluation. The scope of these activities would be augmented by an evaluation budget that considers staffing, external evaluation, and stakeholder engagement costs.
What is your client intake process?
New clients are given an assessment to identify their needs, goals, and establish what success looks like to their organization. The needs assessment will garner information on the clients’ programs or initiatives, outcomes and impact, data collection processes, constituency or target audience, reporting, and the project’s timeline. Following this, an evaluation plan is developed that includes a timeline of activities, budget and deliverables with delineated team responsibilities.
What do some smaller scope and larger scope evaluations look like?
The scope of evaluations will be adjusted based on a project’s size and resources. For smaller scale projects, or projects with limited resources, this may require restricting evaluation activities to either quantitative or qualitative data collection and analysis. On a smaller scale, qualitative data collection may involve one or two focus groups and a limited number of, or reduced time for, interviews (e.g., 30 minutes as opposed to one hour). Quantitative data collection could limit the number of questions in a survey. On a larger scale, the evaluation may incorporate mixed-methodology, site visits, observations, and triangulation of data. These projects often include research to inform the development of evaluation tools, and targets a larger number interviewees, focus groups, and/or survey respondents.
What are some common evaluation methods used?
Creative Research Solutions (CRS) often uses a mixed methods approach to evaluation. Mixed methods includes gathering both quantitative data (i.e., surveys, document review, pretest and posttest) and qualitative data (i.e., interviews, participant observation, focus groups) to gain a thorough understanding of the program or initiative being evaluated. In quantitative methodology, document review includes using internal data to understand program/initiative inputs such as money and time spent on activities, number of staff, attendance records, and trainings conducted. CRS will also work with your organization to determine whether to perform a process or impact evaluation based on your program or initiative stage of development.
What have been some evaluation success stories so far?
We have worked with both small and large organizations to create real, lasting impact. Learn more by exploring the testimonials on our site: non-profits, education, foundations.
How can we create impact together?
Creative Research Solutions is dedicated to supporting those who seek to make positive change. CRS will support your organization by quantifying your impact, thereby helping you to understand what is working and what is not working in your implementation efforts. To this end, we are committed to serving our clients excellently by producing useful and reliable evaluation results. Contact us today to start the conversation!