Hi. My name is Victor Kuo, and I am with FSG Social Impact Consultants, a nonprofit strategy and evaluation consulting firm. How often have you heard the lament, “They liked the evaluation, but they really didn’t do anything with the findings…” or “After we discussed the results with them, the report got shelved, and we never heard anything about it afterwards!” These observations are not unfamiliar to seasoned evaluators. And, in fact, many have looked into how to ensure the use of evaluation findings. After all, why spend thousands of dollars (or even hundreds of thousands!) on an evaluation without thinking well about ensuring the findings actually go somewhere?
To ensure that evaluations are useful and used, it is important to design evaluations that are grounded in questions that are critical to understanding the effects and impacts of whatever we evaluate – be they programs, processes, products, policies, initiatives, or organizations. It is generally acknowledged that when evaluation works well, it provides information to a wide range of audiences that can be used to develop greater appreciation and understanding, and to make better programmatic and strategic decisions.
Here are three tips to maximize the use of evaluations:
Hot Tip #1: Develop evaluation questions that reflect the perspectives, experiences, and insights of as many relevant individuals, groups, organizations, and communities as possible.
Hot Tip #2: Engage intended evaluation users in the development of the key evaluation questions as well as reviews of preliminary and final findings.
Hot Tip #3: When appropriate, consider partnering with intended users to develop recommendations and action plans to implement findings.
A few Rad Resources: for more on this topic, check out this practical guide and the webinar on “Engaging Stakeholders in Developing Evaluation Questions” featuring former AEA President Laura Leviton, Robin Lin Miller, Dennis Scanlon, and David Chavis. The webinar is hosted by former AEA President Hallie Preskill and is viewable on-demand.
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 email@example.com. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.