AEA365 Curator note: Please enjoy this article, part of a 5-part miniseries on VOPEs – Voluntary Organization for Professional Evaluation.
Greetings, fellow evaluators. I’m Jim Rugh, member of AEA since the merger in 1986; now retired after an active career involved in evaluation at international levels. That included being the AEA Representative to the IOCE (International Organization for Cooperation in Evaluation); subsequently a Co-Coordinator of EvalPartners, the even larger collaborative partnership with the UN and many other international agencies. In my “retirement mode” I still enjoy keeping up with the VOPEs of the world. I guess that’s why I’ve been asked to write this introductory piece about VOPEs, IOCE and EvalPartners.
But let’s begin with that funny acronym: VOPE. The definition is Voluntary Organization for Professional Evaluation. Why not just call them associations? That’s the term we use in America, i.e. the American Evaluation Association. But in other parts of the world they’re called societies. And in many countries there are less formal organizations that are networks or communities of practice. So IOCE and EvalPartners introduced the name VOPE, to try to be more inclusive.
IOCE (which I refer to as the United Nations of VOPEs) represents all the VOPEs of the world within the EvalPartners coalition. The Board members of IOCE represent regional networks of VOPEs. These include the African Evaluation Association (AfrEA), Red de Seguimiento, Evaluación y Sistematización en America Latina y el Caribe (ReLAC), the Community of Evaluators South Asia (CoE-SA), The Eurasian Alliance of National Evaluation Associations (EvalEurasia), the Evaluators Network of the Middle East and North Africa (EvalMENA), the Asia-Pacific Evaluation Association (APEA), and the European Evaluation Society (EES); an international network of francophone VOPEs called Réseau francophone d’évaluation (RFE); as well as the Big VOPEs: the Canadian Evaluation Society (CES), the Australasian Evaluation Society (AES), and, of course AEA.
Rad Resource: There are currently 130 VOPEs in 94 countries registered on IOCE’s Directory of VOPEs. These include not only national VOPEs, but also sub-national VOPEs (like AEA’s Local Affiliates). As mentioned above, there are also regional and, indeed, international VOPEs. Though they have not all registered on IOCE’s database, we have heard of 168 national VOPEs and 53 sub-national VOPEs in 129 countries, with total memberships of over 41,500 persons who identify as evaluators, academics who study evaluation, as well as clients of evaluation, including persons in governments with evaluation-related responsibilities. (The strongest VOPEs include a good mix of all of these within their active memberships.) Typical goals of VOPEs include supporting the professionalization of individual evaluators; contributing to the capacity of organizations to design, request, appreciate, and use evaluations; actively promoting evaluation as a decision-making, sense-making, and learning tool within national public policy and programming systems.
Rad Resource: In addition to identifying VOPEs, a major purpose of IOCE is to promote capacity development of VOPEs. For that purpose, it has collected an incredible set of resources by and for VOPEs.
You’ll be hearing more about the VOPE Capacity Development Toolkit, as well as some of the Regional VOPEs during the next few days.
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