Oops, I Forgot to Evaluate! 3 Easy Steps for Retrospectively Evaluating Your Funding Initiative
It's year five of your five-year funding
initiative, and you need to report progress to your board. You're
thinking, "Darn, I wish I had included evaluation planning when we
developed this initiative. Now I'd have a better way to show our
Sound familiar? Don't worry; you aren't
alone. Many funders don't fund or even think about evaluation at the
outset. However, there are three things you can do retrospectively to
learn from the past and inform your future. I recommend enlisting the
help of an external evaluation consultant, who will be more objective,
will be able to devote the time needed, and will be more likely to
elicit honest feedback from grantees and stakeholders.
Conducting a retrospective evaluation is as simple as look, listen, and learn.
Look at reported
accomplishments and compare them to objectives. Your grantees identified
their project goals and objectives in their proposals, and hopefully
they reported on their progress in their annual grant reports. You can
review these documents to determine which objectives were met (or
exceeded) and which weren't.
Listen to your
grantees. Interview them to learn what they see as major
accomplishments, barriers, current needs, and opportunities for further
Learn from other
key stakeholders and experts. The world has changed in the two, five, or
ten years since you planned your funding initiative, and so have the
needs of your constituents. Review the recent literature or conduct
interviews, surveys, or focus groups.
Although including a project-wide evaluation
plan from the start of your initiative is always the best approach, it's
not too late to create some meaningful lessons and metrics when your
project is well underway or even winding to a close. Most retrospective
evaluations can be conducted and reported within a matter of weeks.
To learn more about how to effectively evaluate your work, read the full article.
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