Don't Skimp on Evaluation, Even When Budgets Shrink Don't Skimp on Evaluation, Even When Budgets Shrink
Don't Skimp on Evaluation, Even When Budgets Shrink
The Daily GOOD
Get our daily dose of information and inspiration. Sign up Now ›
This post is a response to “How Might We Emphasize Cost Effective Evaluation Tools?” Read more of the conversation here.
We face a time when efficiency, cost cutting, and preparation for the tough times ahead dominate our conversations. Many funding organizations are looking at reduced income due to diminishing returns on their investments, which can mean fewer grants and a much closer eye on what is invested in to begin with.
For some of the organizations I have worked with the reaction to this is to increase fund-raising activity, to apply for more grants, and to ask for less money (to ensure they get any at all). This can result in compromising some of the most important parts of the work to be carried out, and that too often includes the budget allocated to learning and evaluation.
Cutting back on learning and evaluation can help with the survival of a project in the short-term—survive the worst, think about the future later. But while this may be a strategy to get through the tough times, there are problems with this approach.
If an investment is not made in learning and reflection, in the long term it will be difficult to prove its worth. In addition, the project could suffer from not effectively responding to changes in the project’s environment or to developments and challenges as the project progresses.
Some of the most inspirational organizations I have worked with use another approach: they use the urgency of time like these to review resources by their effectiveness to achieve the goal. In practice, this means they question themselves constantly: are we taking the best approach? Are our resources allocated in the best way? What will the resource commitment now mean in the long term? They seek out knowledge and work hard to maximize their resources for the greatest impact of their work.
Cost-effective evaluation tools then become part of the wider picture—will these tools give the quality information needed to make the project work best; and will they give the information required to maximize its impact in the long term? If a tool does not provide critical information vital to the project’s success it will be difficult to categorize it as cost-effective. Superfluous information is a luxury few organizations can indulge in, even in the best of times.
I believe funders need to encourage this approach by ensuring that their investment does not compromise on funds for learning and evaluation, and is flexible enough to allow for the best tools (for the project) to be used, not just traditional or fashionable tools.
Rose Casey-Challies is the Director of Partners in Impact, designing funding programs and working with socially driven organizations to identify their social impact, and share practice that helps to create change. Twitter: @RoseCaseyC
The Hammock Company Fighting Malaria (From Mom and Dad’s House) Greg McEvilly built a company that produces mosquito-proof hammocks while sleeping under his parents’ roof.
Why Do Happy People Make The Suburbs Look Even More Depressing? There’s a reason engagement photos aren’t normally taken where the couple actually plans on living
Keeping a Pakistani Artisan Culture from Going Extinct Lahore-based social entrepreneurs support local craftsmen by selling men’s shoes named after an endangered goat
Can You Cut Your Water Consumption by 90 Percent for 24 Hours? A nonprofit challenges people to live off a gallon of water a day, instead of dumping it on their heads
A Love Letter to Philadelphia A personal look into the city from the local poet, muscian, singer, and educator
You Can’t Print a Photo from Outer Space On Polyester Celine Semaan Vernon’s new fashion project is a cosmic experiment in empathy.
Forget the Ouija Board If you want to get into divination this Halloween season, check out these alternatives to the game that rhymes with ‘squeegee’
The Standards are Too Damn High An African leadership prize that frequently has no winners has sparked a debate over whether standards of excellence can turn self-defeating.
Stop Chasing the “It” Pumpkin One man’s brave stance against pricey heirloom gourds fouling up fall.
Skid Row Is Here to Stay The largest, and probably proudest, homeless community in the United States is becoming a powerful interest group in Los Angeles.
How to Raise $750,000 for Charity, the YouTuber Way Rising YouTube sensations like Tyler Oakley and Connor Franta mobilize their massive fan base for a cause Next time your birthday rolls around, consider what these enterprising stars did to celebrate theirs.
Chelsea Handler Tries Making Fun Of Andy’s Weight. It Backfires Immediately. An embarrassingly bad attempt to make fun of Andy’s weight