Pat Christian on 5 Tips to Engage International Stakeholders in Planning a Program Evaluation

Hi, I’m Pat Christian and founder of Caleb Missionary Relief Services, an international nonprofit that evolved from evaluating children needs with vulnerabilities in Haiti.  My organization has implemented interventions to improve their quality of education and has made a difference with thousands of Haitian students.  I’ve conducted project level evaluations with input from stakeholders for decision making and accountability. Domestically, I’ve served as a seasonal grant reviewer for the Georgia Department of Education and evaluated educational programs from schools and nonprofits applying for federal funds.

I recently attended the 2016 Summer Evaluation Institute in Atlanta. At one workshop, a registrant from Africa inquired how to engage stakeholders in planning a program evaluation. In his country, he’d been asked to evaluate the success of the program at its end without prior involvement. Working internationally, I understood his concern and knew of situations where the overseer of the program did not engage the community and the program was a failure.

Rad Resource: “It’s not the Plan, It’s the Planning: Strategies for Evaluation Plans and Planning” a workshop by Dr. Sheila Robinson at the 2016 Summer Evaluation Institute incorporated a participatory approach for engaging stakeholders in a comprehensive evaluation plan. Dr. Robinson did an awesome job expounding upon five steps for planning a program evaluation while engaging stakeholders in the entire process. Based on her steps, I’ve suggested how international stakeholders can be involved in each step to maximize the evaluation.

Hot Tip: Engage stakeholders. Identify stakeholders who should be involved in planning a program evaluation and develop a plan how to engage them. Stakeholders can provide information on why the program evaluation is needed for the community and can be the program staff, community members and leaders, the participants, collaborative NGO partners, the nationals’ government, others from similar programs, etc.

Hot Tip: Focus the evaluation. Stakeholders can give input for the logic model and share ways how they will use the evaluation. Stakeholders, as an advisory group, can be a strong asset with getting the community to understand the significance of the evaluation, getting information disseminated more widely, and getting more participants to respond.

Hot Tip: Collect data. To ensure cultural competence in evaluation, stakeholders give the evaluator an understanding of the cultural dynamics and can recommend what data collection methods are best for the culture.

Hot Tip: Analyze & interpret the information. As an American, I may interpret data through one set of lens but involving stakeholders to discuss the analysis and lessons learned presents a different lens for interpreting data.

Hot Tip: Use the Information. Discuss with stakeholders how the information should be best communicated with the community and determine the next steps.

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