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What is Evaluation?

Evaluation is often more a point of view than a specific skill set.  Many different methods may be used -- it is the intent and purpose that makes it evaluation. A few definitions are offered below to help understand what evaluation is.

Evaluation is...

"Evaluation is a methodological area that is closely related to, but distinguishable from more traditional social research. Evaluation utilizes many of the same methodologies used in traditional social research, but because evaluation takes place within a political and organizational context, it requires group skills, management ability, political dexterity, sensitivity to multiple stakeholders and other skills that social research in general does not rely on as much."

Source: Research Methods Knowledge Base


"Evaluation is about using monitoring and other information you collect to make judgements about your project. It is also about using the information to make changes and improvements."                          

Source: Charities Evaluation Services

Evaluation asks...

"In the voluntary sector people work hard, have little money, are very committed, and care a lot...some how it must be good...BUT at end of the day what difference does the work make?

  • How do we know what is being achieved- the results, if any, of the work? Are they meeting people‘s needs- which people? It is not enough to say 'We are doing a good job'.
  • What do users/members/clients/beneficiaries think about how they do our work?
  • What do the funders think- is their money well spent?
  • What are they trying to achieve- and how will they know we they are succeeding? Are they effective?
  • What needs to change and how?

The answers to these questions are discovered through evaluation."

Source: Evaluation Trust

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