Getting Started with Evaluation

It is important to be very clear about what you are evaluating, why you are evaluating, and for whom you are evaluating. Paying attention to these questions will help you shape your evaluation into a more useful tool.

Or, What Do You Need to Consider?

It is important to be very clear about what you are evaluating, why you are evaluating, and for whom you are evaluating. Paying attention to these questions will help you shape your evaluation into a more useful tool.

What Are You Evaluating?

Think about what you are evaluating. Is it a start-up initiative? Ongoing services? Outcomes for program participants? The effectiveness of management functions such as internal communication, public relations, fund development or governance?

You will use different types of evaluation and different tools depending upon what you want to evaluate.

Why Are You Evaluating?

Why are you evaluating certain activities? Being clear about why and what you are evaluating will help you figure out how to evaluate it.

  • Is it to find out if the activities are helping clients?
  • To inform future planning?
  • To understand better how an initiative got off the ground?
  • To find out if activities are having an overall impact?
  • To understand the impact of the activities on the organization?

Each of these questions gives rise to a different type of evaluation.

Who Is Your Target Audience?

How you package the findings of the evaluation will change depending upon the audience it is intended to reach.

Is the evaluation:

  • Internal to a team or department?
  • For the staff of an organization?
  • For the management team?
  • For clients?
  • For the entire agency?
  • For the funders?
  • For the general public?

Evaluation measures merit and value, but it is also a communication tool, one of the most effective a nonprofit can have.

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