Simple and complex evaluations can both be meaningful.

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.

Levels of Change to Evaluate

Consider the following Indicators of Social Change as defined by the Women’s Funding Network to help assess the effectiveness of your initiatives: 

  1. Shift in Definition – The issue is defined differently in the community or larger society.
  2. Shift in Behavior – People are behaving differently in the community or larger society.
  3. Shift in Engagement – People in the community or larger society are more engaged.
  4. Shift in Policy – An institutional, organizational, or legislative policy or practice has changed.
  5. Maintaining Past Gains – Past gains have been maintained, generally in the face of opposition.
  6. Building Sustainable Institutions – Catalyzing and sustaining social change by strengthening institutions that stand for and work for such changes.

Questions to Consider

  • What key shifts in knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors amongst individuals and the community at large do you wish to see and measure?
  • How can you design your evaluation to consider feedback from a diverse representation of your community, including those most impacted by violence?

Resources for Evaluation

Developing an Effective Evaluation Plan


AUTHOR: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

YEAR: 2011

DESCRIPTION: Workbook helping public health program managers, administrators, and evaluators develop a joint understanding of the importance of developing effective evaluation plans.



AUTHOR: Veto Violence

YEAR: 2021

DESCRIPTION: Guide for providers and advocates laying out each step of program evaluation and things to consider when planning and conducting an evaluation.

Primary Prevention & Evaluation Resource Kit: Evaluating Prevention Strategies


AUTHOR: Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape

YEAR: 2014

DESCRIPTION: Toolkit intended to support preventionists in building upon what they are already doing to evaluate their programs with six steps and suggestions for when and how to hire an outside evaluator.



AUTHOR: Prevent Connect

YEAR: 2021

DESCRIPTION: Library providing strategies for quantitative and qualitative evaluation to build the practice-based evidence base within the field of sexual and intimate partner violence prevention.

Empowerment Evaluation Toolkit


AUTHOR: Sandra Ortega, Amy Bush Stevens

YEAR: 2011

DESCRIPTION: Toolkit with 6 parts for local primary prevention providers, particularly those who are beginners or who have intermediate-level skills in program evaluation.

Evaluation Report Template


AUTHOR: Domestic Violence Council Palm Beach County


DESCRIPTION: Template providing a format and instructions for quickly transforming evaluation results to an evaluation report.

Evaluation Plan Workbook


AUTHOR: Innovation Network

YEAR: 2005

DESCRIPTION: Workbook offering an introduction to the concepts and processes of planning a program evaluation and was created to present evaluation as a tool of empowerment.

CDC Evaluation Toolkit


AUTHOR: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

YEAR: 2015

DESCRIPTION: Toolkit with 3 key concepts and aligned resources outlining critical elements of effective evaluation to support maximum community impact.