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Mayes Wilson & Associates

The secret to successful program evaluations

Julie Whelan Capell |

I have created many program evaluations over my 30+ year career in nonprofits. Most of these have been evaluations of youth-serving programs like environmental education, arts programs done during school hours, and after school tutoring. And in my experience, the aspect of evaluation that is most often forgotten is getting buy-in from front-line staff.

Think about it. You’ve spent weeks creating a logic model for your program and hours working on a survey tool. Give yourself a gold star if you’ve involved participants in the whole process!

Now it’s time to deploy the survey or questionnaire. You’re explaining to the front line staff how the evaluation process is going to work.

But before you can say “learning organization,” the front line staff start bringing up objections:

• Environmental education staff roll their eyes at the thought of kids doing a paper and pencil survey–much less an online survey–in the middle of the woods;
• Staff of the in-school arts programs point out there is no time allocated in the curriculum for evaluation;
• After-school tutoring staff object that the kids already get tested too much.

If you don’t want to be in these situations, check out our article “Getting Staff Buy-in for Program Evaluation.” In it, we show you the ways to motivate your staff to support evaluation efforts, and discuss the many benefits of getting their buy-in.


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