Well-designed and carefully implemented evaluations are worthwhile endeavors. Certainly, program evaluation can help you determine what is and is not working in your program. It can also be used to show your funder(s) and other stakeholders what your program does and how it benefits program participants. In fact, the results of program evaluation can even assist you in raising money for your program by providing evidence of effectiveness. In addition, program evaluation adds to the existing knowledge about which types of programs are most effective with which types of program participants.
An external evaluator can serve as a valuable partner to ensure that your evaluation is thoughtfully designed and carefully implemented. This partnership must be built on a shared understanding of the goals and objectives of the evaluation, a clear delineation of the roles and responsibilities of each partner, and mutual respect.
External evaluators can greatly enhance the quality and usefulness of program evaluations if the purpose and tasks of the evaluation are clearly defined, adequate time is devoted to the evaluator selection process, and a collaborative approach is taken between the partners to design and implement the evaluation. If the guidelines and suggestions identified in this report are followed, the evaluation process should be enjoyable and productive for your organization and the external evaluator.