Evaluators are not usually the favorite person of the staffs of organizations – non-profits, government agencies and grant recipients. They usually have some automatic negatives: they are often required by funders, they are judgmental by job description, they are nosey and intrusive, and, worst of all, they give you a grade.
But Evaluators are not all bad. They can actually be very helpful tools and weapons. Their efforts and reports can be used to your advantage. Here are a few possibilities:
- Severance – If there is a partnership that is not working, but dissolving it would be a public relations fiasco, an Evaluator can help you. They can:
- Assess the problems
- Determine if the relationship is salvageable, if so suggest modifications to improve it
- Justify dissolving the partnership if that is the best path (be the bad guy)
- Validate enforcement of the agreement and responsibilities
- Avoidance of mistakes – By assessing potential partners and their programs an Evaluator can help you choose the right partners. An Evaluator can ask the nosey, intrusive questions because that’s what they do. Understanding the potential and challenges of a partnership is critical to the success of a “marriage”.
- Be your champion – When you need to convince a person or group (board, funder, etc.) to allow you to do something (add or alter a program, change a policy or procedure, or adopt a new strategy) an Evaluator can gather the data and input. They can help you build the case.
- Find the good – One of the best but most unused things an Evaluator can do is help you identify assets and clarify messages. This help can provide just the information you need to increase the effectiveness of you publicity. An Evaluator provides an outside view. They also specialize in collecting and analyzing information. Combined these two things can take your publicity and branding to a whole new level. Talk about reputation enhancement!
- Keep your funding – Often funders, especially the federal government, require that any program or organization they fund must have an outside evaluation. So, in that case an Evaluator is necessary to get and keep your funding. But even if an evaluation is not required, it can still help you keep your funding. An Evaluator can do the research and analysis that you and your staff may not have the time or expertise to do. That research and analysis will provide much of the data you need to do the required reporting to funders, boards and donors. The Evaluator can even do the report for you. Because you have and Evaluator involved the report has an extra stamp of credibility, which never hurts when it comes to funding.
- Save you money – Yes hiring an Evaluator costs money, but they can also save you money by:
- Getting or retaining funding
- Giving you back the time you would spend to do research, analysis and report preparation
- Helping you avoid the cost and wasted time of bad partnerships
- Showing you where changes in policy or procedure could reduce costs
So, the next time you don’t think you want or need an Evaluator, think again. They might just be one of your best investments.