Evaluation: insider or outsiders job?

Photo by Pink Sherbert Photography

Who should evaluate your program? That question has probably been asked in your organization at one point or another. Most nonprofit organizations hire an evaluator that comes in for a few months or a year, evaluates the program, gives them a report and then leaves. Then a year, or years later, the process repeats itself. Each time with the organization dishing out anywhere from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Being an evaluation consultant, I am more than happy to help nonprofit organizations with their evaluations, but it makes me very sad when I see nonprofits that aren’t doing evaluation simply because they can’t afford it. This is one of the reasons why I think that building the capacity of nonprofit organizations to do their own evaluations is so important.

Nonprofits don’t need to do fancy random assignment experimental evaluations for them to be good or useful. It can be a simple survey at the end of a program that helps with program improvement.

I do think bringing in an outsider’s perspective can be valuable for evaluations, particularly when having an objective person is important. But, when that isn’t the case, there really is no reason why an evaluation can’t be done internally. It can save money, promote use, and increase involvement of internal staff (which increases likelihood of use).

I’d like to ask you (nonprofit workers/organizations) to share in the comment section whether you do evaluations, whether they are done internally or externally, and why?

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