BECOME Week: Evaluation Capacity Building Sustainability by Jay Wade

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:

Lessons Learned:

  • 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.


The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Become: Community Engagement and Social Change week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from authors associated with Become. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

2 thoughts on “BECOME Week: Evaluation Capacity Building Sustainability by Jay Wade”

  1. Hi Jay,
    Thank you for your hot tips, I’m a teacher and I’m currently implementing a new program at my school. Your tips have helped me readjust my planning to ensure that staff and administration are willing to take the time to implement it.
    In addition to showing the benefits to all staff and hoping that they will ‘buy in’ we have also started a staff reward program. What do you think of this? Do you think it is a good idea and feasible?

    Looking forward to your thoughts on this,
    Zoe Treble

    1. Zoe,

      Hello! I apologize I did not see this until now. I think a rewards program is a great idea, but I would need to know a bit more about it to give any definitive tips or tricks. E-mail me at and we can discuss further. Glad you found the post helpful.


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