Program evaluation involves working with stakeholders to define and measure the short-term outcomes and long-term impact of your program. Results are reported to all stakeholders and used internally for program improvement and organizational capacity building.
A program without evidence of results is not a strong program. There are a variety of scenarios to consider.
- A program that is not evaluated may have great results that are not being communicated appropriately in your grant proposals, leaving money on the table that may have been awarded to your organization had you provided evidence of success.
- Some programs are not achieving expected results. If these programs continue to receive funding despite the lack of results, the funding is being diverted from similar, possibly more successful programs, making the target population or community worse off. If evaluated, these programs can be improved to better serve the community.
- At worst, a program may have negative unintended outcomes that will go unnoticed without an evaluation. In the microfinance sector, there have been cases of children being taken out of school to work for the family business. In addition, several suicides were traced to over-indebtedness in the microfinance sector. Imagine if these programs were not being evaluated. How long would these unintended outcomes have gone undetected?
Keep in mind when you are planning your evaluation
- Your evaluation plan should be designed alongside your program. If your program is already implemented, it is not too late. Starting your evaluation late is always better than not evaluating at all.
- A good evaluation design includes input from all stakeholders.
- The needs of your target population and community should always come first. They are the reason for your program and organization’s existence.
- Gather information about outcomes, impact, and key questions from all stakeholders.
- Design a theory of change and/or logic model to visualize the process, outcomes, and long-term impact of your program.
- Design survey instruments, interview or focus group protocols, observation sheets, or any other tools you will need to collect the data.
- Analyze your data using Excel, Stata, SPSS, or other statistical analysis software.
- Write one or more reports, depending on stakeholder information needs.
- Use the evaluation results to improve your program design and delivery
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