by Adela Rusu, Romanian NGDO Platform FOND
In late 2018, Forus Romanian NGDO Platform FOND commissioned an independent evaluation of its first 10 years of activity. The evaluation looked at FOND’s external impact as well as the platform’s organizational capacity and membership involvement. The NGDO Platform shared suggestions were put together by the evaluation team as good practice examples relevant to any NGDO platform. These suggestions are based on FOND’s experience of platform building, members’ engagement and building relationships with stakeholders to influence policy on international development cooperation.
(Based on the experience of the team of consultants evaluating FOND’s impact)
Before the evaluation
- When you consider contracting an impact evaluation, make sure you know why you need an evaluation, precisely what you wish to evaluate (“everything” is not the best option), and what you plan to do with the results of the evaluation.
- Consider whether you wish to focus your evaluation on your external impact (successes, results you have achieved, failures) or on your organizational performance.
- Choose evaluators who are familiar with the specificities of the NGO sector in which you operate. Otherwise there may be too much context information that cannot be gathered and grasped within the timeframe of the evaluation.
Participation and ownership
- Involve your members in the early stages of the evaluation process. This will help both the evaluators in designing evaluation questions that are truly relevant, and it will also increase ownership of the process for your members and the organization as a whole.
- Apart from your members, make sure the evaluation reaches a diversity of other stakeholders. You will be the ones providing your evaluators with a list of stakeholders to interview, so make sure to:
- Ask yourself: will the evaluators on this list be able to provide information about what it is you are trying to evaluate?
- Include stakeholders from more than one category (i.e. partners, advocacy stakeholders, networks and coalitions you are affiliated to etc.)
- Include both stakeholders whom you expect to have a positive feedback about your organizations, but also people whom you expect to be more critical.
- Make the list bigger than necessary, as not everyone on the list will be able to participate.
Using the results
- Going back to the first lesson: the best chance of actually using the results of the evaluation is when you begin the entire process with a clear idea of how to use the findings.
- Be transparent in sharing the evaluation results with your members or other relevant stakeholders and also take the time to discuss them collectively.
- Evaluation findings are best to be consumed fresh. Take the first chance to discuss complicated or sensitive results and to start implementing changes.
Lastly, if you don’t have the resources to contract an external evaluation, it is possible to conduct self-assessments in which mostly staff members run the process. In this case, what you should be aware of is:
- You can and should use a rigorous methodology for self-evaluation – you can find a useful guideline and toolbox for self-assessment at this link, or you may start by exploring more resources on this list.
- You should still include multiple stakeholders in the evaluation (e.g. Board members, member organizations, partners, donors etc.)
- The results of a self-assessment may be different from those of an external evaluation, and it may be difficult to know whether your conclusions are objective. However, this process may be an excellent exercise that helps your organization improve its monitoring, evaluation and learning processes for the long term.
Discover more about the Romanian NGDO Platform FOND 17 lessons for building and strengthening the impact of NGDOs platform here.