This is an Eval Central archive copy, find the original at communityevaluationsolutions.com.
My husband and a good friend got together and bought me Christina Tossi’s baking class for Christmas. Christina is the founder of Milk Bar in New York City. The class is INTENSE! Thirty days of lessons, baking, then developing your own recipes. The lessons are great and Christina is a lot of fun. But boy, coming up with your own recipes is a PROCESS! You first develop a flavor story, brainstorm possible ingredients and “mixings” and then start testing your cookies.
I have a secret.
I am just not that patient. Sure, I can follow a recipe and I am a pretty good cook and baker. But the “prototyping” process, although fun and interesting, is a little tedious. Trying different combinations of flavors, testing them out and taking note of what works and what doesn’t.
It occurred to me that you might feel the same way about evaluation. And just because I love the whole nerdy process, doesn’t mean you do.
The thing I find that turns nonprofit and foundation leaders into fans is focusing on evaluation use.
Yes, evaluation is all about asking actionable questions, designing a method to answer those questions and then assessing whether what you did made a difference.
The thing people often forget is the next step. What does your evaluation findings suggest you do?
Hopefully you are looking at your data quarterly, but if not, at least yearly as a minimum. The end of your fiscal year is a good time for an annual review. It’s a great time to review your community level data and your evaluation results. During your end-of-the year review ask these 10 questions:
- What went well?
- What can we do better?
- Did we reach our intended audience?
- Did we engage those most affected by the problem?
- Did we engage the right partners?
- Did the people most affected by the problem drive the work?
- Did we identify barriers and/or policies that need to be addressed?
- What do we need to keep doing?
- What is not really worth our effort or is not aligned with our strategy?
- What needs to change?
Follow this process, and just like creating a new recipe, you will develop something fabulous.
Isn’t that what we all want? And have a cookie.
Take care friends.