Diving Into The Intersector Toolkit: Define the Intent of the Evaluation

blogimage_EvaluationWe recently updated our Toolkit for Intersector Collaboration to provide even more useful advice to practitioners involved in cross-sector collaborations. We’re profiling each of our 17 tools on our blog, with a focus on resources that can help collaborations succeed.

Before embarking on an evaluation of a cross-sector collaboration’s work, partners must first agree on the purpose of the evaluation. Facilitating agreement on the purpose of an evaluation acknowledges that partners may have differing goals for the evaluative process and allows a cross-sector collaboration to move forward with generating insights that are mutually agreed to be relevant to all partners. For example, some partners may propose an evaluation that assesses collaborative processes (e.g., governance structure, project management system, how indicators of success were chosen) so that others can replicate the collaboration’s efforts; others may propose evaluating outcomes to report success to their constituencies; others may propose evaluating both process and outcomes in order to adjust collaboration strategy (assuming the collaboration is ongoing rather than project-specific). In defining the intent of the evaluation, partners may also want to ask, Do we have internal capacity to conduct the evaluation(s) partners have agreed upon? Or will we enlist a third party to conduct the evaluation(s)?

University of Wisconsin-Cooperative Extension’s “Evaluating Collaboratives: Reaching the Potential” is a comprehensive resource valuable for all stages of assessment processes. Section 3: Evaluation Practice (found on pp. 35-39) provides helpful explanations and templates for considering various questions an evaluation can focus on (including feasibility, process, and outcomes), potential uses of the evaluation (assessing accountability, deciding on resource allocation, or planning work commitments), and audiences for the evaluation (e.g., public officials, community residents, and funders). Also see Sources of Information and Methods of Data Collection (found on p. 43), as well as the example Evaluation Worksheet (found on p. 44) for a template to record what partners want to evaluate and how they will evaluate it.

For step-by-step guidance and activities for developing an evaluation that is more focused on assessing “how” the partnership is doing than on “what” the partnership is doing, see Tool 18: Evaluation in Collaboration Roundtable’s “The Partnership Toolkit” (found on pp. 108-112). This resource provides guidance on identifying the rationale for an evaluation, determining which questions should be answered in an evaluation, and more. It’s recommended to be used by collaborative partners, except in the instance that there are controversial issues to resolve, in which case partners may want to involve an independent evaluator.

See Define the Intent of the Evaluation in our Toolkit for further discussion on this topic, questions to guide tool use, and more.

Explore the full Toolkit and each of the 17 tools with enhanced discussion, questions to guide tool use, and additional resources here.