Evaluation is a process that critically examines programs by collecting and analyzing information about a program’s activities and outcomes. Program evaluation does not have to be complex or facilitated by a researcher to help communities document success. Simple and cost-effective evaluations can track an increase in the number of engaged men in a community with sign-in sheets, the change of an individual’s knowledge using a pre/post survey, or the reach of a public education campaign with social media analytics. Focus groups, one-on-one conversations, and testimonies can inform programmatic decisions and demonstrate an initiative’s success.
If resources allow, more complex evaluations can capture program impacts. Communities seeking to conduct more in-depth evaluations but have limited resources may consider collaborating with colleges and universities who may offer student interns to assist with developing evaluation plans, evaluation tools, data analysis, and evaluation reports. External evaluators (such as Empowerment Evaluators) provide a range of services from consulting on evaluation strategies to co-developing evaluation tools and procedures for self-implementation to leading the entire evaluation of your program. It is important to know what approaches and “lens” that an external evaluator uses in their work and how this may or may not fit with the community that you are working with.