Seven Pitfalls to Avoid in Evaluation (#3 = Isolation)
Do you ever feel like you are alone in the evaluation process?
This isn’t unusual! Sometimes, nonprofit leaders feel like they are solely responsible for an evaluation project. Even if they choose to work with an evaluation consultant, it can be easy to assume that their evaluation only involves two people: them and their evaluator. This is a dangerous assumption, however, for a few reasons.
First, if you don’t have buy-in from your staff and leaders, it may be difficult to collect evaluation data down the road. After all, your program leaders are the people interfacing with clients and your target audience. They are the ones with the relationship. Most likely, they are already juggling a lot of balls so to speak. Without adequate buy-in, they may feel that the evaluation is just one more burden to bear. A good evaluator will spend a lot of time with you on the front end and work closely with your leaders and key stakeholders. This doesn’t mean the project should be led by a committee, however. There still needs to be one point person for the project. But soliciting appropriate input is highly advised.
The other problem is that if you make decisions independently, there is a high likelihood of missing some key metrics that are important to certain stakeholders. Your donors may want you to measure certain outcomes, while your program staff may value other outcomes that will help them (i.e. the program staff) lead more effectively. So, what do you do?
Tips for Collaborative Evaluation:
- Have plenty of conversations with your staff and key volunteers about why your organization needs evaluation and how it will help move the strategies forward.
- If you are working with an outside coach/consultant, make sure that he/she involves your staff in the initial process of gathering information and solicits their input.
- Make sure there is at least one person on your team who “owns” the evaluation process, even if you are working with an outside consultant.
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This blog post is part of a series of 7 articles on “Seven Pitfalls to Avoid in Evaluation.” Check back soon for another one!