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Creating an evaluation budget

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Use this page for guidance on how to create an evaluation budget.

Once you’ve understood the issue you need to focus on and made use of an evaluation planning tool, the next step is to create an evaluation budget.

You might create an evaluation budget as part of:

  • budgeting for evaluation internally
  • writing an evaluation brief – to commission an external evaluation using consultants.

What to include in an evaluation budget

If it’s your project, programme or organisation requesting the expertise of an evaluation consultant, the main cost will be the consultant’s fees.

This is referred to as commissioning. Consultancy is usually charged by the day and can cost between £300-£900 per day.

These day rates are often based on the experience and reputation of the consultant.

You should also budget for any expenses (food, travel, accommodation), and Value Added Tax (VAT) if charged by the consultant.

As a very rough guide, evaluation costs commonly make up 10-15% of an overall project budget.

You'll need to include:

  • Staff salaries: How much time will your staff need to spend on the evaluation?
  • Consultant’s fees
  • Cost of data collection methods: For example, materials for focus groups or the cost of any new technology needed such as survey software
  • Incentives for people to take part: Vouchers are often provided to compensate for people’s time. For example, taking part in an interview or workshop.
  • The cost of any outputs (reports, videos, presentations, infographics). Consider if you need to budget for a graphic designer for any reports for example.

Factors that may affect your budget

  • Size of your organisaton, service or project.
  • The complexity of your organisation, service or project:
    • Location – are there multiple sites? Will the evaluation be virtual, face-to-face or a mixture of both?
    • Accessibility of stakeholders. Will there be any additional challenges engaging the groups you work with in evaluation?
    • Internal capacity. Do you have staff who can take on some of the workload or tasks?
  • The questions you want to answer:
    • The key questions the evaluation intends to answer will affect the amount of time needed. More sophisticated or complex evaluation approaches, and those looking at longer-term impact, are generally more expensive.
  • How involved you want to be in the evaluation:
    • If you’re commissioning an external evaluation, how much do you want to collaborate with the consultants?
    • How much involvement should other stakeholders have in the evaluation? Evaluation is generally strengthened by collaboration with stakeholders, however this also increases costs.
  • What data collection methods might be suitable:
    • Using existing or secondary data is the lowest effort
    • In-depth, exploratory methods such as interviews take more time and effort
    • Don’t forget the time and technical expertise to analyse and interpret the data.
  • Whether or not you want to include capacity building for your organisation or team:
    • If you’re working with external consultants, do you want them to help build your internal evaluation skills, processes and systems?
  • How to share and use your findings:
    • Think about the cost of different ways of communicating your findings.
    • Written reports, infographics, videos and animations will have different resource implications.

Once you have created your evaluation budget, you can use this to write an evaluation brief if you intend to commission an evaluation.

Last reviewed: 18 September 2023

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This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 18 September 2023

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