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Use this page to learn about the different parts that make up the evaluation process.
Once you’ve read about what evaluation is, next it’s important to understand the process of evaluation. Evaluation is a process which works as a cycle. The cycle includes a number of stages.
Before you begin an evaluation process, you need to do some work to understand the issues faced by the people or communities you work with.
Before you evaluate something you need to understand what the issue is you’re trying to solve. This could include a ‘needs assessment’ (research into the needs of a community) reviewing the challenges faced by the people and communities you work with.
Find out more about on our guidance on the issues you want to focus on.
Careful, realistic planning is the foundation for robust evaluation.
Planning requires you to reflect on how and why you think your work can make a difference.
Your evaluation goals will also help you learn about the depth and detail of the information you’ll collect, as well as your plans for collecting it.
You might begin by creating one of these options:
An evaluation planning triangle, theory of change or strategy at the start of your evaluation will help you define what it is you’re doing, and how that will lead to the change you want to see.
These are also excellent first steps for involving others in thinking about your impact – everyone can get involved in discussing and defining your organisation’s purpose, desired outcomes and impact.
This stage is about data collection - the process of gathering evidence for how and why your work makes a difference.
You need to think about how to collect data in these ways:
Data collection may include interviews, focus groups
The assessment stage covers data analysis – the process of bringing together the evidence that you have collected. This is followed by making sense of it to understand how much change has happened, for who, and why.
Along with covering key steps in analysis and making sense of change, you need to consider how you can achieve an objective picture of your overall impact.
This includes thinking about other factors that could’ve contributed to your impact, as well as how much change might have happened independently of your work.
Read more about this in our guidance on analysis and reporting.
The review stage focuses on learning from the findings of your evaluation so you can help your organisation to learn and improve.
It also means thinking through how to communicate your findings clearly, honestly and transparently. You’ll need to think carefully about what format you do to achieve this, for example, a written report.
A key part of the review is learning from the findings and making changes to improve your work.
You should also consider how to feedback to the people who were involved in the evaluation process.
The review stage doesn’t not be at the end of a project. If you work in an agile way, you can do the evaluation process multiple times. Often, you do also need a final project evaluation.
Find out more about this in our guidance on using your evaluation findings to improve your work.
Once you’ve read this section, read our guidance on Theory of Change.
Last reviewed: 18 September 2023Help us improve this content
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