Our first Weigh-In Wednesday! How can OTF help build your evaluation skills?

(Stacey McDonald) #1

Happy Wednesday! Weigh-in Wednesdays is all about helping each other out. Have a challenge or problem? Looking for advice or opinions on a situation? Have a burning question? Post it here, and hopefully the community can provide insight and advice.

Here’s my burning question: How can OTF help build your evaluation skills? Please let us know!

(Jon Farmer) #2

I’m conscious of the limitations of both budget and time when planning evaluation. Are there best practices for engaging with participants in the weeks or months after participating in a presentation or forum? How can we encourage participants to respond and explain to funders that proper evaluation is sometimes beyond the scope of the funding they’re providing? (different questions, I know).

(Stacey McDonald) #3

Thanks for your question @jonfarmer. I’ll tackle the second question first. It is really unfortunate when the needs of funders don’t align well with or become problematic for organizations. Funders work with a lot of different organizations, and often the requirements are made with the majority in mind. This sometimes leads to cases where requirements aren’t a great fit. I think the best way to avoid this problem is to:

  1. Have a high level plan for your evaluation before you apply for funding (what do you want to learn or achieve/what does success look like and how can you know if you’ve achieved it; what information do you need; what would it take to do this). Be clear about what’s feasible in the time frame you have. Even within a single year grant, there are ways to learn and measure effectiveness. It might be that you need to adjust the outcome you evaluate (focus on first steps, short-term outcomes, and make the case that these will lead to a longer-term outcome). Need advice about this? Call me. I’m happy to talk to applicants and provide some advice and suggestions. It’s always better to be clear about this from the start, then everyone has the same expectations.

  2. Look at the funder requirements for evaluation. Hopefully these requirements are feasible and realistic. If they aren’t, maybe this isn’t the best source of funding for you. Not sure what it entails or if there’s any flexibility? Call and ask. For OTF you can call our customer support, and if need be, make an appointment to speak to a program manager, or even myself. The people you speak to will not be the ones assessing your application, and we genuinely want to help you.

  3. Ask for the funds you need to do #1 and #2 as part of your grant application. We know that evaluation takes time and resources, and are very willing to support that work.

I hope that’s helpful! I’ll come back in a few days to answer the other part of your question.