20 Questions about Program Evaluation

  1. What is our intended impact?
  2. What are our specific goals?
  3. How will we know if we achieved each of our goals?
  4. What is our organization doing to contribute to that intended impact and those specific goals?
  5. What resources and relationships are needed to achieve our goals?
  6. What internal capacities and skills are needed to achieve our goals?
  7. What internal capacities and skills are needed to conduct the evaluation?
  8. Who will be involved in the evaluation process and what will their responsibilities be?
  9. How will we measure our progress toward our goals?
  10. How will we evaluate process, outputs, and outcomes?
  11. How will we collect data and stories for this evaluation?
  12. What data collection instruments need to be designed?
  13. How will we analyze the information that is collected?
  14. What kinds of information will the evaluation reveal?
  15. How will we use the information that is collected through our evaluation?
  16. How will the results of the evaluation be used to strengthen the program and the organization?
  17. How will we communicate the results of our evaluation?
  18. How is accountability integrated into the culture of our organization?
  19. How are the voices of program participants included in the evaluation process?
  20. How will this evaluation reveal unmet needs and how will the organization respond to these?

Evidence-Based Means…

…outdated, unoriginal, uninspired, and boring. When program evaluation demonstrates that a program has made a human or social impact, it is sometimes labeled as evidence-based. Evidence-based programs are packaged, sometimes commodified, and ‘sold’ — either literally or figuratively — as proven solutions. Other organizations are encouraged to adopt evidence-based programs with full fidelity to the original program design.

This process fully obscures the many contextual/environmental factors that contribute to the achievement of outcomes in pilot sites. It also assumes that the environment is fully controlled so that the impact of the program can be isolated from other influencing variables. It further postulates that what works in and is appropriate for one particular time and place is universally applicable.

I prefer to develop creative programs, co-designed with representatives from the entire community, based on their perception of needs and potential. Not only is this much more fun, it promotes community-led visioning and unique, innovative program design.