Hello, AEA folks! This is Jay Wade from PIE Org, a strategic partner of Become, and I am an evaluation capacity building (ECB) nerd! As a practitioner of ECB, I always wonder…what happens after our contract ends? Do organizations sustain evaluation practice? It turns out…they do! As part of my dissertation, I looked into the sustainability of ECB efforts and found there were some critical areas that facilitated sustainability. Below are some helpful tips and tricks to creating sustained change in organizational evaluation practices:
- Leadership needs to be supportive and/or bought-into the ECB process, as demonstrated by presence and participation during ECB meetings with staff. Additionally, a champion for evaluation must be cultivated to help facilitate internal evaluation practices. Boards or board members who are active in the ECB process also help facilitate sustainability and can have a dramatically positive effect on sustainable practice. The more visible and involved leadership, especially at the board level, the better!
- Evaluator Rapport. ECB usually requires added work for staff, so it helps if the staff actually likes the evaluator. Evaluators should try to speak the shared language of the organization, understand the mission and values, and be a welcoming and friendly presence. I always try to empathize and incentivize: active listening, a free lunch, and lending a helping hand on unrelated projects. Those efforts go a long way!
- Using Evaluation. Once the ECB process has helped organizations align outcomes and collect data, they need to use it. I have found quarterly data discussion meetings with staff, as well meetings with development teams about how to use evaluation findings for grants and reporting, to be particularly beneficial practices.
- Understanding the Benefits. ECB practitioners should celebrate successes during the ECB process. Staff need to see the benefits of the work they are doing; they need to see how it aligns to the mission and values of the organization. I always point out the bright spots and highlight what they did well. Framing is useful – it’s not a deficit, it’s an opportunity to better serve your community. The more often you can link evaluation to funding or developmental opportunities, the better!
- Value & Buy-in. Once staff sees the benefit of evaluation, they begin to value and buy into it. Numbers and percentages are so impersonal – I always try to find “success stories” to emphasize for staff. Once staff is bought in, they are more likely to continue to conduct and use evaluation in an ongoing, sustainable manner.
Rad Resources: The University of Hawai’i at Manoa has some great ECB resources
Jean King & Boris Volkov created a great ECB checklist.
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