Do evaluators have the responsibility to share findings?

Today’s American Evaluation Society’s AEA365 tip by Barbara Klugman is about an evaluator’s ability to speak truth to power, which is their conference theme this year. They give 6 tips, and 6th got me thinking. It suggests that an evaluator include in their terms of reference the independent right to communicate findings to other audiences, and have the resources to do this (while respecting their ethical responsibility to do no harm). Klugman suggests that publishing findings is critical to an evaluator’s ability to speak truth to power, and make sure results contribute to broader learning in the field.

What do people think about this??? Do evaluators have a responsibility to share findings, even if their client chooses not to do so? Evaluators - have you or would you do this? Community orgs - would you be ok with this? Would agreeing to this change your approach to the evaluation?

I think we all need to do much better at sharing what we learn. Is this the way to do it?


Interesting post, Stacey! I wonder how often clients would be willing to accept this term of reference. It seems like a delicate issue with the potential create tension between evaluator and client.

Perhaps one way to facilitate the acceptance of this term of reference - or to gauge a client’s view of it - is to develop a communications plan (see link below) at the outset of each project in collaboration with the client. This could potentially help to detect future ethical challenges in reporting results and address them before getting too deep into the project. Just one idea anyway - I’m curious how others would/have navigate/d this responsibility for evaluators to share findings.


Some foundations have gone a step further and are embedding Open Licensing clauses into their contracts (See Vancouver Foundation as an example). These clause ensure that any reports produced (including evaluation reports) are released freely to the public.

While these clauses certainly allow for the findings to be shared and knowledge used by others. However, to what extent would clauses like these change what is included in final reports? I.e. would they be less likely to include negative results?