Table of Contents >
Chapter 39. Using Evaluation to Understand and Improve the In... >
Section 4. Communicating Information to Funders for Support ... >
Communicating Information to Funders for Support and Accountability
Tools & Checklists
Contributed by Chris Hampton
Edited by Vincent T. Francisco and Bill Berkowitz
Tool #1:Evaluation Report Outline
The front cover should include:
- program title and location
- name(s) of evaluator(s)
- period covered by the report
- date of the report
Lay out your front cover neatly and make it look nice--the front cover is the first thing your audience sees and it makes an important impression.
Section I -- Summary (or Executive Summary)
This is a brief (two to three pages) overview of the evaluation outlining major findings and recommendations. Some folks are too busy to read any further than the summary, so make sure that this is as complete and clear as possible. The summary should include:
- What was evaluated?
- Why was the evaluation done?
- What are the major findings and recommendations?
And, if space permits:
- What audience is the report aimed at?
- What decisions, if any, need to be made or have been made based on the results of the evaluation?
- Who else might find the report to be of interest or importance?
Section II -- Background Information About the Program
Presumably, most of the people reading your evaluation report will at least be somewhat familiar with the program, but that's not necessarily the case. And even people who are familiar with the program may have some misconceptions, so take the time to make your goals, strategic plan, organizational structure, and other essential program elements clear. Typically, this section will include:
- Origins of the program
- Program goals
- Clients involved with the program
- Administrative/organizational structure
- Program activities and services
- Materials used and produced by the program
- Program staff
Section III -- Description of the Evaluation
This part explains why an evaluation was done and what you hoped to learn from it. It should also explain anything the evaluation was not intended to do. Here are some of the questions that should be answered by this section:
- Who requested the evaluation?
- Was the evaluation meant to satisfy any particular audience and, if so, which one(s)?
- Were there any restrictions to the evaluation in terms of money, time, or other resources?
- Was any particular kind of evaluation design used and, if so, why?
- What was the timetable for collecting data?
- For each measure, what sort of data was collected?
- What sort of methods were used to gather data, and why were these particular methods chosen?
- How did the evaluators ensure accuracy?
Section IV -- Results of the Evaluation
This part will explain what your findings were in detail. This may include:
- All data collected --analyzed, recorded, and organized in understandable forms (charts, tables, graphs, etc.)
- Excerpts from interviews
- Testimonials from participants and clients
- Questionnaire results
- Test scores
- Anecdotal evidence
Section V -- Discussion of Results
Here is your chance to go into more detail --the why of your evaluation results. This part should answer the following questions:
- How sure are you that your program or initiative caused these results?
- Were there any other factors that could have contributed to the results?
- How are the results different from what they would have been if your program didn't exist?
- What do the evaluators feel are the strengths and weaknesses of your program?
Section VI -- Costs and Benefits
This part of the report is optional --if you choose to include it, it gives you a chance to justify your program's budget and financial choices. If you include it, here's what we suggest you include:
- Costs associated with the initiative (not only financial costs, but costs in terms of resources, energy, results, and staff/volunteer hours)
- Methods used to come up with the budget
- Benefits from the program (both financial and non-financial)
Section VII -- Conclusions
After writing all this stuff up, it may be tempting to dash off a quickie conclusion to this report --but avoid that temptation! This is a very important piece of the big pie, because this is where you make your recommendations:
Return to top
- What major conclusions about the initiative can be reached as a result of this evaluation?
- Is there anything you feel should not be judged at this time, and if so, why?
- Based on the evaluation results, what recommendations can you make for the program?
- If the evaluation gives you any idea of what the future holds for the initiative, what would that be?
- What worked well about the evaluation? What didn't work so well?
- What recommendations do you have for anyone doing future evaluations with the program?
Here, you'll find checklists that summarize the major points contained in the text.
You understand some of the reasons you should try to let others know about your initiative:
____ To let the public to know you exist
____ To let the public know some of what you've been doing to help your community
____ To stir public interest
____ To expose the issue and encourage the public to take action
You understand the following reasons for informing the public at the local level:
____ To help raise awareness about the issue
____ To help attract volunteers, funding, and in-kind resources from local concerned citizens and agencies
____ To promote awareness of the efforts of volunteers and collaborators
____ To help lobby for local ordinances or program changes to address issues of concern
____ To provide accountability to the community, trustees, and funders
You understand the following reasons for informing the public at the state level:
____ To create a "name" for your initiative in the state, which makes it more competitive when seeking state resources
____ To help establish a statewide network of persons and agencies with similar goals
____ To help lobby for legislative changes to address the issues of concern
____ To help the initiative garner recognition and resources from the state and region
You understand the following reasons for informing the public at the national level:
____ To create a "name" for the initiative nationwide, which makes you more competitive when seeking resources from the state or federal government or from large private foundations
____ To help tap into nationwide networks of persons and agencies with similar goals and wide expertise
____ To help the initiative garner recognition and resources from across the country
____ To encourage community partnerships to work on the problem or issue
You understand the three tips for making sure your findings aren't ignored:
____ Give your information to the right people!
____ Address issues which those people think are important
____ Be sure the information has been presented in time to be useful and in a way that's clearly understood
You've shared data with the following key audiences (if appropriate)?
____ supporters in the community
____ your target population
____ the general public
You've shared data with the following local audiences (where appropriate):
____ civic organizations
____ business groups
____ grassroots organizations
____ school boards
____ parent-teacher groups
____ church organizations
____ the local press
____ health organizations
____ elected and appointed local government officials
You've shared data with the following state/regional audiences (where appropriate ):
____ state and regional professional conferences,
____ regional professional training workshops
____ grassroots and advocacy organizations
____ church conferences
You've shared data with the following national audiences (where appropriate):
____ professional conferences
____ professional training workshops
____ grassroots and advocacy organizations
____ church conferences
If dealing with difficult audiences:
____ You've anticipated their questions, concerns, and objections
____ If appropriate, you've had a primary figure in your initiative present the findings
____ you've had someone else give out the information
____ You reinforced the data repeatedly
____ You kept your cool
When talking to the press about your evaluation findings, you've done the following:
____ Be honest with reporters.
____ Write your own press releases.
____ Train your reporters.
In developing a general presentation format, you've included the following:
____ The issue(s) of concern
____ The initiative's goals, strategies, and methods for reaching those goals
____ Data on activities (e.g., services provided)
____ Data on accomplishments (e.g., community changes)
____ Data on outcomes (i.e. behavioral measures and community-level indicators)
____ You've kept your visuals simple to cut down on problems interpreting data.
You've identified different avenues of getting the word out about your evaluation results, including:
____ word of mouth
____ newspapers and newsletters
____ radio--both public service announcements and local news or call-in shows
____ television coverage
____ professional journals
You understand the following different formats for presenting your evaluation results and when they might be appropriate to use:
____ Technical reports
____ Executive summary
____ Technical professional paper
____ Popular article
____ News release and/or press conference
____ Public meeting
____ Media appearance
____ Staff workshop
____ Personal discussion
You've considered the following possible goals of your presentation:
____ Money and in-kind resources for your initiative
____ Volunteers for project activities
____ Influence in changing a program, policy, or practice
____ Input on how to make the initiative more responsive
____ Overcoming resistance to the initiative
____ Ideas on how the initiative can become more effective
You've followed these steps in developing your presentation:
____ You understand your primary users and audiences.
____ You have reviewed the results of your evaluation with program staff before writing up your evaluation report.
____ You've taken time to brief any important political figures before releasing your report to the public.
____ You know that your final report can just be a short document summarizing the evaluation findings with a technical appendix for those who are interested.
____ If you decided to do an oral presentation, you made up a small number of charts and tables illustrating the most important findings.
____ Your report begins with the reasons the evaluation was done, what questions were asked, and why those were the questions chosen.
____ You explained what your group or coalition wanted to learn from the evaluation and what methods were used to conduct the evaluation.
____ You've explained what sort of implications the results have for your group or initiative.
Return to top