The Value of Evaluation

January 14, 2010

In our experience, an independent evaluation benefits an organization in other important ways in addition to assessing a program externally. The data collection and analysis an evaluation requires provide an opportunity and means to improve a program internally. The information an evaluation gleans enables an organization to determine what works and what doesn’t, and to adjust its program(s) accordingly. Preparing for and undergoing an evaluation has prompted several of our grantees to design or improve performance measurement systems and to use these as management tools. The discipline of evaluation, understanding a program’s strengths, limitations, and areas needing improvement, makes an organization more realistic, sophisticated, and effective.
It’s important to note that not every program requires an evaluation to prove its effectiveness. Many organizations, including some EMCF grantees, have adopted and implemented models that have already been evaluated. In such instances it is critical to ensure that the model is replicated with fidelity. Funders and nonprofits can use ongoing performance tracking data to document that the program is reproducing its original outcomes. Many a promising program has been compromised by cutting corners.
Monday's post: Evidence and Evaluation: Getting from Promise to Proof.
Tuesday's post: How Can an Organization Build Its Evidence Base?
Wednesday's post: A Single Standard of Evidence?
Tomorrow: How philanthropy and government can work together.

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Nancy Roob

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