Melanie Hwalek on Evaluation Contracts

My name is Melanie Hwalek and I am the founder and CEO of SPEC Associates, a nonprofit organization with a national reach based in downtown Detroit, Michigan. I have been practicing the art of program evaluation for about 30 years. Our clients range from tiny grassroots organizations to major national nonprofits and foundations.

Hot Tip: Get it in writing. Whenever you are about to engage in work, whether it be for a small nonprofit agency or a major national foundation, make sure that your work agreement is in writing. Assume nothing. The more specific you can be regarding the work you or your evaluation company will do – and regarding what you are expecting your client to do – the better off both of you will be in the long run.

Rad Resource: At SPEC Associates we generate a contract with every client for whom we undertake work. The contract contains all of the elements that we think should be discussed, clarified and agreed to by the evaluator and the client prior to starting the work. Issues like: How much will we get paid? Who owns the instruments, data and/or reports? How do we terminate a relationship that isn’t working? How do we negotiate needed changes that become apparent as the work evolves? Who is the person in each organization who has the authority to sign off on major decisions? What, exactly, will each organization be responsible for doing? We’ve shared the contract template that SPEC Associates uses in AEA’s eLibrary at http://bit.ly/speccontracttemplate

This contribution is from the aea365 Daily Tips blog, by and for evaluators, from the American Evaluation Association. Please consider contributing – send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org.

4 thoughts on “Melanie Hwalek on Evaluation Contracts”

  1. Pingback: Susan Kistler on Evaluation Contract Resources | AEA365

  2. Hi Melanie,

    Thanks for the tips and resources. You are completely right regarding taking the time out to lay out all the specifics for both parties. I think a lot of people may gloss over this step due to the sheer amount of time it requires to go back-and-forth, which ultimately does take away from time you could use for your actual work. Fortunately, your uploaded template could help expedite things a bit.

  3. Thanks for sharing this, Melanie. Having a good contract to work from makes it so much easier to resolve issues that come up in the course of a project.

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