Rad Resources for Connecting with Stakeholders by Sheila B Robinson

Hello aea365 readers! I’m Sheila B Robinson, aea365 Lead Curator and sometimes Saturday contributor. This past week, I taught courses at AEA’s Summer Evaluation Institute in Atlanta, GA. One of my courses, It’s Not the Plan, it’s the Planning: Strategies for Evaluation Plans and Planning fills up every year. In this course, participants learn:

  • How to identify types of evaluation activities (e.g. questions to ask of potential clients) that comprise evaluation planning
  • Potential components of a comprehensive evaluation plan
  • How to identify key considerations for evaluation planning (e.g. client needs, collaboration, procedures, agreements, etc.)

What isn’t in the curriulum for this course, is the answer to a couple of questions participants frequently ask at the end:

  • How do I engage stakeholders in the evaluation?
  • How do I get buy-in from stakeholders?
  • How can I get stakeholders to value the evaluation?

Lesson Learned:

My best advice for stakeholder engagement and obtaining buy-in for evaluation is to engage early and often. Meet with people, share information about the evaluation and how it’s going. Offer intermediate reports, even if you have only a little to report. Most importantly, meet people where they are: If stakeholders are concerned with bottom line dollars and cents, talk with them about that. If they’re concerned about the impact on the target population, share what and how beneficiaries are doing in the program. In other words, tailor your interactions with stakeholders or presentations to them to align with their specific areas of concern and interest and connect on both an emotional and intellectual level. Evaluation is not just about data. It’s about people. Successful stakeholder engagement cannot be achieved with a one-size-fits-all approach! For more specifics, here are a few helpful resources.

Rad Resources:

Get Involved:

I’m certain our readers would appreciate more on this topic. What are your best strategies for stakeholder engagement? Please offer them in the comments, or better yet, contribute a blog article on the topic!

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@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.


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