Outcome evaluation is important. Conducted with forethought, credibility, and purpose, the results can benefit an organization or program by
According to the American Society on Aging,
1. Evaluations affect funding.
One of the greatest challenges community organizations face is finding funding for important programs. Your organization’s capability to systematically demonstrate past successes will give funding sources confidence in your ability to effectively carry out the programs they are asked to finance.
2. Evaluations document achievement.
If the approach and strategies you developed successfully increased physical activity among older adults or changed dietary habits, the evaluation will document the program’s effectiveness. The maxim, “If it isn’t documented, it didn’t happen,” holds true for future program development and justification.
3. Evaluations can help you correct mistakes and maintain program flexibility.
Success fuels success. Evaluation lets you build on the strengths of past programs and learn from their problems to develop stronger future efforts. Continued evaluation keeps programs fresh and adaptable to changes in the environment or community.
4. Good evaluations motivate staff.
Knowing that the program met its goals will motivate staff to continue the long hours of community-building work.
Additional benefits from evaluation include
Because funding is a key issue, it is worth emphasizing that many public agencies and private foundations require information about the impact of their dollars on the targeted populations. They need to be accountable to the public or their boards of directors. Funders want this topic addressed not only in final reports, but also in grant applications.
Appendix 7: Evaluation Tools