This begins with the disclaimer that I am not an evaluation specialist. Just as an exercise regiment urges you to consult with a physician prior to beginning, please consult a specialist before implementing an evaluation.
But are you going to spend time finding and consulting with an evaluator before you even know if the project will happen? Probably not. You may, if a funding application requires you to identify and name an evaluator. Otherwise, engaging an evaluation specialist usually happens after an organization has confirmed that a project will be moving forward.
However, there needs to be some evaluation thinking at the proposal development stage.
Let’s start by understanding two key kinds of evaluations:
1. Outcome Evaluation demonstrates that you have achieved the goals and impact you intend to achieve. That is, you're getting the right results. These should be easy to identify as they flow directly from your project goals and objectives.
2.The Process Evaluation demonstrates that you are performing the tasks according to the project plan. That is, you're doing what you said you’ll be doing. In addition to ensuring the project roll-out is happening as planned, process evaluation allows for continuous improvements. You need to identify a number of relevant process evaluation categories like adhering to timelines or overall satisfaction of participants, volunteers and staff.
For both outcome and process evaluation plans, you want to identify:
I have ordered these on purpose. Number one is the most important to identify. You need to be clear on your benchmarks of success. As you move to metrics and methodology, you can be a little bit more vague. You can list some options for both and state that you will be consulting an evaluation specialist to determine the most relevant and accurate measures and methodologies.