How Can You Help to Establish, Institutionalize, and Grow a VOPE? by Benita Williams

AEA365 Curator note: Please enjoy this article, part of a 5-part miniseries on VOPEs – Voluntary Organization for Professional Evaluation.

Dagsê, Sanibonani, Mhoroi! My name is Benita Williams and I work as an evaluation consultant in Southern Africa. I mostly evaluate education, leadership development and ICT4D interventions. I’m a former AfrEA board member and a founding SAMEA board member.

I am very interested in building the capacity of VOPEs because I believe they have great potential to promote an enabling environment for evaluation. VOPEs rely heavily on volunteer efforts of a group of individuals interested in promoting evaluation.

Hot Tip: Volunteering in a VOPE is an excellent way to build your evaluation networks. For young and emerging evaluators, it is an excellent opportunity for leadership development.  Read on if this sounds interesting.

VOPEs that develop their institutional capacities, formalize and diversity the activities they conduct typically are the ones that grow and become more effective.  Volunteers can make significant contributions to any or all of these facets

1. Formalization: Once a VOPE is founded they typically articulate their vision and operating structures in founding documents and a constitution. A membership policy usually sets out who is eligible to be a member of the VOPE and it spells out what the rights, benefits and responsibilities are.

Rad Resource –The AEA Starter Kit for Local Affiliates is a useful resource created by AEA members that could benefit those who are interested in founding or strengthening a VOPE in any country.  Remember, you can search for existing VOPEs on the IOCE website.

2. Institutionalization: For a VOPE to actively serve its members, it needs to pay attention to running the “business side”. Communication, coordinating volunteers’ efforts, managing the finances, and administering membership and voting processes can make or break a VOPE.

Rad Resource – Here are some ideas for how you can support the institutionalization of your VOPE.

3. Diversification of Activities: VOPEs typically host conferences and workshops, do advocacy, produce publications, develop guidelines and standards, confer evaluation awards, build international linkages, and participate in important evaluation debates.

Rad Resource: Globally the professionalization of evaluation is receiving attention. The VOPE Toolkit contains a page that introduces the main approaches and considerations in the professionalization of evaluation.

The VOPE Toolkit is a growing repository of resources for VOPEs. If you have found it useful, consider sharing your story.

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.

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