Unlock the power of evaluation at your organization
Organizations often hire evaluation consultants (like us) because they are tired of their evaluation activities not generating useful information for their organization or they’re not sure where to start.
For some, the process may feel onerous on staff and clients, and the activities may not deliver the information they need. Others are adept at collecting large amounts of data, but aren’t sure which data points to the things that really matter. And others spend precious resources pulling together reports because it is a grant requirement, but doesn’t add value to their day-to-day work.
Sound familiar? Does this describe your organization’s experience with evaluation?
The most common issue at the root of these experiences is linked to organizational learning questions. What is a learning question you ask?
Learning questions tell you what you need to learn about from a variety of information-gathering approaches—including evaluation—to inform strategy and decision-making. For example, do you want to better understand the clients you serve? In this case you might ask questions like:
- Are we reaching the people we want to reach?
- Are there barriers to access for certain members of our community?
Or, you might want to better understand how the program you are delivering is working. You might then consider asking:
- To what extent are clients receiving the program/service as it was designed?
- To what extent are services meeting the clients’ immediate and longer term needs?
Or you might want to better understand if your program is achieving the outcomes you are hoping to achieve. You might consider asking:
- To what extent are clients receiving the help they need through the services we provide?
- To what extent are clients experiencing shifts in awareness, knowledge, relationships, attitudes, capabilities, or behaviors as a result of our services?
- Do some subgroups of our clients have better outcomes than others?
Over our many years consulting for the social sector, we often find that organizations struggle with evaluation because they don’t have clear learning questions, have too many learning questions, or they have no learning questions at all!
We are on a mission to solve this problem and empower you to take control of your evaluation and unlock its power to maximize your organization’s impact.
Unlocking this power starts by grounding your learning questions in your organization or program’s Theory of Change (TOC) – a framework that articulates the change you seek among those you serve through the program/services you provide. A TOC is a helpful starting point because it helps you get clear about what you can reasonably expect to hold yourself accountable for and where there may be opportunities for program improvement. (For those who don’t yet have a TOC, or need a TOC refresh, we will provide free resources for attendees to support development of a TOC after the webinar).
So how do you figure out which learning questions to focus on for your evaluation?
It is a good idea to first identify all the questions you want to find the answers to. Then, prioritize your learning questions to identify which questions you will seek answers for first. You can’t answer them all at once! Selecting a few questions that will inform decision making in the near future will narrow your focus. As you learn more by answering your first set of priority learning questions, you may then move on to other questions, refine them, or add new learning questions.
Want some help developing powerful learning questions? Join us on Wednesday, July 27 for Candid’s webinar, “Unlock the Power of Evaluation at your Organization,” to learn more about designing powerful learning questions to guide your organizational evaluation, learning, and strategic decision making. Register for the webinar here.
After the webinar, you will also have access to a FREE toolkit/resources to help you develop your theory of change, craft focused learning questions and so much more!