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René Lavinghouze on Sharing Your Program’s Story

Hi, my name is René Lavinghouze, I am a senior evaluation scientist in the Office of Smoking and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Today I will be sharing a tip and a resource concerning storytelling in evaluation.

Hot Tip: Who can resist a picture of a smiling child who is now pain-free because her teeth have been restored and sealed to prevent further decay?  After all, this is the purpose of your program – to change the lives of participants for the better.  Such a simple description of a program’s progress, achievements, or lessons learned is a success story or lesson from the field.  Success stories are relevant to the practice of evaluation and are increasingly used to communicate with stakeholders about a program’s achievements. They are an effective way for prevention programs to highlight program progress as these programs are often unable to demonstrate outcomes for several years.  Therefore, communicating success during program development and implementation is important for building program momentum and sustainability. Success stories come in all shapes and sizes from the 15-second elevator story to the published article.

Rad Resource: A workbook was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention entitled: Impact and value: Telling your program’s story that focuses on using success stories throughout the program’s life cycle.  This workbook defines success stories, discusses types of success stories, and describes methods for systematically collecting and using success stories to promote your program and influence policy decisions. This workbook is a free download at http://bit.ly/cdcsuccessstories

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.

1 thought on “René Lavinghouze on Sharing Your Program’s Story”

  1. I strongly agree with you that success stories can be a powerful approach to evaluating programs. I would add that a carefully constructed narrative about how a program has affected an individual, organization, or community can be a better way of conveying the “truth” of a program than the usual quantitative data that evaluators collect. Means, modes, and medians do not tell us how a program, when delivered well, can change the lives of people. Only stories can give us this information. And only stories move us to action.

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