Getting started

Use your Theory of Change to guide the development of your evaluation questions, decisions about purpose and audience and choice of evaluation approach.

Develop an evaluation framework and plan

Good evaluations can generate reliable and useful information for practice and program decision making. Decisions regarding evaluation design influence the quality of the evidence and the recommendations you can make. Better Evaluation provides information on a range of different approaches and The Menu Technical Specifications details different study designs for generating evidence of impact.

To decide which evaluation approach suits your aims, first clarify the purpose and audience for the evaluation. Consider whether to conduct the process internally or commission an external agency, such as a university or expert consultant. An external or ‘independent’ evaluation can reduce – but not eliminate – bias or self-interest.

Once these decisions are made, a framework and plan is developed to guide the process of inquiry which includes ethics, methodology for data collection and analysis, and strategies for learning and dissemination of evidence.

Resources, expertise and organisational values are important factors to consider throughout an evaluation; it must be ethical, culturally safe and respectful for the people who participate and achievable within your organisation’s resources and capacity.

Some helpful steps in the Evaluate phase can include:

  1. Use Theory of Change to guide the development of evaluation questions, clarify the intended use (purpose) and intended users of the evaluation findings (audience)
  2. In consultation with key stakeholders (clients, staff, funders) select an evaluation approach and develop and implement an evaluation framework and plan
  3. Reflect on, use and share findings and recommendations.

Try these techniques to help as you Evaluate:

  • See the Design phase for information on developing a Theory of Change
  • Seek expert advice and work with key stakeholders to determine what evaluation approach best fits the program needs
  • Determine who should lead and participate in the different stages of the process e.g. data collection, analysis, reflection and use of findings
  • Institute a process for systematically reflecting on findings (with team and community) and data-informed decision-making
  • Sustain and embed the evidence informed program or design or select new approaches based on findings and recommendations.

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