Conducting  program evaluation for your non-profit can be a daunting (but not impossible!) process. Today’s post is part two in a series where I walk you through the steps of conducting a program evaluation for your non-profit.

In the first post, I discussed investing stakeholders in your non-profit’s program evaluation. Now, let’s discuss the second step: deciding who should conduct your non-profit’s program evaluation. The program evaluation team is responsible for carrying out the remaining steps in the program evaluation process.

Team Options

There are a number of different team configurations, but here are three common options.

  • An external evaluator (i.e., an individual or consulting firm)  leads the evaluation work while program staff provide support.
  • An in-house evaluator leads the work, with support from other program staff and an external consultant.
  • An in-house evaluator leads the team and is supported by program staff.

Which Team is Right for You?

There’s no right answer to this question, but there are two main factors that you’ll need to keep in mind as you make this decision:

  1. Your funder’s requirements. Some funding agencies require non-profits to hire an external evaluator. This person is intended to serve as an objective third party and as such, should not be should not be affiliated with your non-profit.
  2. Your staff’s capacity and capabilities. Specifically, you will need to have a clear understanding of your staff’s skills and experience in planning an evaluation, designing data collection tools and procedures, and collecting and analyzing data.

Whatever team you select, it’s important to remember that while a specific team is responsible for program evaluation, all staff members are partners in the work. Staff members’ knowledge and experience working with program participants and the community are critical for a successful evaluation that benefits program staff and participants, the community, and funders.