There comes a time in every project application that one must depart from all the good stuff (the vision, the plan, the activities, the partners, the results, the impact), and write a blob of text about evaluation.
The questions don’t make it easy.
How will the project activities, the deliverables and the results be evaluated? Explain which quantitative and qualitative indicators you propose to use…etc.
Imagine God having to consider this dimension before Moses would accept the 10 commandments. Thou shalt have focus groups at set intervals of the implementation period…
Evaluation sucks. How to still make it work?
There is a big risk that you end up creating a completely new project layer on top of your existing project, all full of surveys, interviews and questionnaires. In reality, this will be the part you will hate most in your project.
Another pitfall is that you confuse evaluation for monitoring. After all, I imagine, you would have already crafted a good set of project monitoring actions (such as: we will check if we are doing what we said we would be doing and if we don’t, we will discuss why not, and when we know that, we will see how we change what we were going to do and start doing what we said we would do). Evaluation is not monitoring. Evaluation is about creating a space from where you, or others (you know: target groups, stakeholders, experts, internal/external, advisors, supervisors, people, your mother, and so on), can enter into a reflection about an aspect of you trying to reach your result.
Still confused? Let’s try to break it down.
You can evaluate the following:
- How is the work going? (implementation, collaboration, dynamics, and so on)
- What the work is making (outputs, deliverables, conferences, books, propaganda)
- Is there change (impact, sustainability, joy and peace on earth)
I tend to at first lose myself in the forest of indicators, seeking to prove to the donor that we will get straight A’s. But I think evaluation far more should serve the project being great.
I could be wrong.