What Is Evaluation?

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In this video, I give my very brief definition of nonprofit program evaluation. In my view, evaluation is not:

  1. Financial auditing
  2. Magic

Other definitions that I talk about are:

  • The American Evaluation Association’s definition: “Evaluation involves assessing the strengths and weaknesses of programs, policies, personnel, products, and organizations to improve their effectiveness.”
  • An unattributed definition: “Evaluation = Research + Valuing”

My definition is much more simple:

Evaluation is measuring progress towards program goals.

In future videos, I will show how we all engage in evaluation daily and how beginning to evaluate your nonprofit’s programs is not nearly as scary as you might think!

2 thoughts on “What Is Evaluation?”

  1. Hi Maria,

    I loved this video! I’ve been drawing some pictures, diagrams, and cartoons to define evaluation that I’ll probably post soon.

    I especially loved the “evaluation is not magic” section. I would add that people also think that evaluation is pressing buttons in a database and automatically generating a report. Evaluation is a lot more than data analysis, and data analysis is a lot more than clicking buttons on the computer.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Great points, Ann! Yes, lots of people think that all evaluators crunch numbers all day. It’s really the human interactions that make an evaluator/ion good.

    I look forward to your cartoons!

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