Core Competency: Evaluation
A well-planned and well-executed evaluation can help you ensure program improvement, effectiveness, and impact. Evaluation provides a foundation for you and your community to build, enhance, and sustain your program. Your program evaluation should provide a continuous feedback loop, allowing you to make mid-course corrections to ensure long-term program effectiveness and sustainability.
Planning the evaluation as you plan your program can help ensure that your objectives are measurable and that you can demonstrate success. Include evaluation activities in your program plan, and make sure that you have approval to collect data at the beginning of the grant so you have community buy-in from the start.
Consider partnering with evaluators to ensure that the evaluation is done smoothly and efficiently. Evaluation should be integrated into your core program components and not be a separate activity. Designate one or more staff members to lead evaluation efforts throughout the life of the grant. Training and professional development can help ensure staff and stakeholders understand the utility of evaluation and evaluation data.
When possible, use evidence-based methods and tools to evaluate your program. These methods and tools can be obtained from literature searches or from similar organizations that have developed and validated their own instruments. Keep in mind that existing tools may need to be adapted or revised to be appropriate for your community setting. Consider pilot testing your evaluation tools with a small sample group of your population to ensure the tools will be effective in obtaining the information you want.
Evaluation is meaningless unless it is shared with your supporters, funders, and partners. Disseminate selected evaluation findings to key stakeholders and community leaders. Share successes in terms that are important to each audience. For example, legislators may want to hear how much money was saved by averting hospitalizations, while community members may want to hear how many people were reached.
The core competencies below will allow you to gauge program effectiveness, capitalize on achievements, and identify and address barriers to success throughout program implementation and beyond. At each stage, consider how program participants and stakeholders can participate in evaluation design and implementation.
For more on this topic, see Program Evaluation section.
- Your program staff and coalition plan for evaluation from the start.
- Your program partners with evaluators to implement evaluation smoothly and efficiently.
- You obtain Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval of planned evaluation efforts.
- When possible, you use evidence-based methods and tools to evaluate your program.
- You identify the most appropriate evaluation methods and tools for your community setting.
- You use creative approaches to ensure that evaluation occurs even if resources are limited.
- You use evaluation data to improve implementation and to support systems change.
- You disseminate selected evaluation findings to key stakeholders and community leaders.
How Your SPRC Prevention Specialist Can Help
While the cross-site contractor supports the national GLS cross-site evaluation, SPRC supports any additional efforts to assess the effectiveness of your unique program components. Your Prevention Specialist can:
- Assist you in involving evaluators from the start, selecting appropriate evaluation tools and methods, and tailoring evaluation efforts for your community
- Support you in thinking early on about audiences and SMART (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely) objectives, which can help clarify your evaluation plan before implementation even begins
- Help you and your evaluation team connect with other GLS evaluators to share strategies and lessons learned around implementing evaluation on the ground