Why Building Evidence and Incorporating Evaluation is Crucial to the Success of Your Program
Wednesday, August 9th, 2017
We at Casa de Esperanza know from our work with community-based organizations that you are already experts in pulling information you need to do your work on a daily basis. Sometimes what might be missing is the documentation of such efforts.
In response to organizations large and small across the country interested in learning how to enhance their current structure, building evidence for the work they do, and extending their capacity, we created the Building Evidence Toolkit in collaboration with four other Latin@-serving, community-based organizations working from a culturally specific framework: La Paz, Trans Latina Coalition, Mujeres Latinas en Acción, Voces Latinas.
Why evaluate a program?
It is not easy knowing whether a program is working as planned, or if it needs improvements or adaptations. Like using a recipe to make a dish, we need to document what ingredients we will need and what steps we need to follow. Similarly in program evaluation, documenting your work allows you to see if the “ingredients and steps” of your program are working, or if they need improvements or adaptations. Unlike a recipe, evaluation allows you to understand how effective your program is, its strengths and weaknesses, its cost-effectiveness, opportunities to expand, and whether it should be eliminated or substituted by another program. This is valuable information when you need to apply for new or renewed funding.
What is my purpose in evaluating my program?
The reasons for conducting evaluation can be diverse and include both internal and external factors. When you plan to evaluate a program it is important to clearly identify the reasons why you are collecting information about the program. This will inform your evaluation activities. Table.1 consists of a series of questions that offer guidance in identifying the purpose for evaluating your program.