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Engaging Clients with Participatory Evaluation

Hands holding growing tree In January, we touched on EVALCORP’s approach to evaluation, which often centers on collaborating with clients who are also key stakeholders of their programs or initiatives we are evaluating. In past blog posts we have also described various types of evaluation approaches.

In order to most effectively meet our clients where they are at, EVALCORP primarily engages in three different evaluation approaches: utilization-focused, empowerment, and participatory evaluation; using the approach most applicable for the particular client. For this blog, we wanted to touch on key aspects of participatory evaluation, as we tend to get many questions related to this type of approach.

The key characteristic of participatory evaluation is that stakeholders are involved in the evaluation. They can be involved at any point throughout the evaluation and their level of participation may vary, but their involvement is critical. Some common ways that stakeholders can get involved is in identifying the organization’s needs, determining how a project will have the greatest impact, collecting and/or analyzing data, and assisting in reporting findings.

Stakeholder participation is critical because:

  • It gets the evaluation started in the right direction. Stakeholders often have the best perspective of a project’s needs and what the project should accomplish. When stakeholders participate with the evaluator right from the beginning, the evaluation objectives and subsequent activities (e.g., identifying key outcomes, data collection design, data collection, etc.) become more focused.
  • It leads to a more effective project. Stakeholders not only help ensure that the evaluation addresses the right issues; they ensure that those issues are addressed in the right way. In doing so, they contribute to a project’s success.
  • It empowers stakeholders. By working alongside evaluators, stakeholders gain the knowledge and skills to monitor their progress and evaluate their own results.

For more information on participatory evaluation, please visit: Better Evaluation

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