This post is one of a series about what goes into proposals that win grants. Its topic is evaluation plans. Its context is the United States of America.
The quality of an applicant’s evaluation plan is critical for its proposal in winning a grant. The same plan is also critical to success in implementing a project. The evaluation plan demonstrates the applicant’s willingness to report on the benefits and results of a grant. Its content and level of detail vary with the funder’s requirements and with the nature and scope of a project’s program design.
An applicant’s evaluation plan needs to answer essential questions, such as:
- How will it collect or gather data?
- Who will collect the data?
- When will it collect the data?
- How often will it collect the data?
- How will it analyze the data?
- How will it report the data?
- When will it report the data?
- How often will it report the data?
- To whom will it report the data?
An applicant can strengthen its evaluation plan, if it:
- Describes its internal evaluation team
- Identifies and uses a highly qualified External Evaluator
- Presents its External Evaluator as one of its key personnel
- Defines and delivers what stakeholders need or want to know
- Defines its data collection needs and strategies
- Uses summative and formative evaluation methods
- Uses quantitative and qualitative evaluation methods
- Describes technical merits – reliability and validity – of its evaluation instruments
- Incorporates a grant program’s performance indicators (if any)
- Identifies target audiences for its evaluation reports
- Links monitoring and evaluation to its management plan
- Presents its evaluation processes in chart or table format
- Includes a timeline or a list of evaluation milestones
Among the many roles of an evaluation plan are to:
- Measure an applicant’s progress in achieving its objectives
- Provide accountability for outcomes to funders and other stakeholders
- Assure a grant maker of an organization’s effectiveness and capacity
- Improve the quality and extent of implementation of key activities
- Increase local support for a current initiative and for its sequels
- Inform decisions about what works and what to do after a grant ends