Early evaluation planning focuses attention, promotes shared understanding and prepares partners. Developing an evaluation plan from the outset builds consensus among partners about a theory of change and helps them establish a shared understanding of, and commitment to, the most important elements and outcomes. It establishes an expectation of rigor and reinforces a culture of accountability among partners. It can also provide an opportunity to engage community leaders early in the process.
Evaluation improves action. Successful partnerships are often those that continuously evaluate their process and progress and adjust or adapt based on the results. This ability to make informed adjustments is critically important as conditions often change, people and resources come and go, and mistakes are made. Partnerships that incorporate evaluation results quickly into their work are able to improve their effectiveness and efficient use of resources.
Rigorous evaluation builds credibility and support. Evaluation is a discipline as well as an investment. While some partners may prefer not to invest their time or money on evaluation, it can provide credibility and validation of the work that is important in a competitive environment. Funders and key stakeholders often value measures and evidence as they decide whether to support ongoing projects and where to make adjustments.
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