Program evaluation involves a systematic investigation to determine the process and outcomes of a specific program. Such evaluations are often required by funding sources such as city or county governments, or by private funding sources, such as foundations. When applying for any sources of funding in todayís world, a proposal will require some form of program evaluation to provide evidence to the funder that resources will be used as proposed and that outcomes will be measured. Future funding from these organizations will be determined by your ability to provide evidence of your programís ability to meet your proposed outcomes. The type of evaluation you undertake to improve your programs depends on what you want to learn about the program.
It is not uncommon for a program to change over time in response to the needs presented to them by constituents. Unfortunately programs often do not change their mission statement, goals and objectives to match the ongoing changes of their organization/program. This may result in a program evaluation measuring changes in a goal that no longer exists for a program, therefore producing inaccurate results. It is critical that a program evaluation verify a program as it is intended to function today, not as it was intended to be run in the distant past (unless the intent is to measure programmatic deviation from established goals). It is important that the evaluation verifies that a program is doing what it thinks it is doing, not what previous generations of administrators had anticipated it would be doing. This process is called an evaluability study and frequently precedes a formal program evaluation.
There are two key types of program evaluation: process evaluations and outcome evaluations. Process evaluations measure the actual implementation of a program and assess fidelity of its implementation to the model that was initially proposed. Outcome evaluations are concerned with measuring the goals and objectives of the program via their proposed outcomes. It is common to perform both forms of evaluation when developing new models/programs or when implementing and existing evidenced-based model. When replicating an existing model, process evaluations help to explain outcome results that are in conflict with results from previous implementations of the model.
The design of a program evaluation will vary depending on the unique needs of each program. Some of the methods of data collection for program evaluations include:
GGSR can help nonprofits develop a program evaluation design for funding proposals, as well as conduct program evaluations to meet funding requirements. The evaluations can be designed to both meet funding requirements and remain within the budget allocated for this service.