Wait, (but) this grant also needs an evaluation and an evaluator!?
What do we do?
Where can we find one?
The grant is due soon!
(Kind note to organizations, colleges, universities, and evaluators too–please do check with the contracting officer(s) at your institution before engaging with an evaluator and be sure to follow rules/regulations on any bidding out for evaluation services, if needed.)
Well, I am quite certain that most of the evaluators at least once in their lifetime were “found” at the last minute and upon request (plea) (or a need, desperation, and even some frustration on both sides), have responded to the call or an email, “Thanks for reaching out. Sure, I’d be happy to help. So, when is the grant due?”
(*Sigh and/or other negative emotions not expressed openly*).
But honestly, in the last minute, most of us have likely “written something up” to meet the deadline–which was probably not well-thought after or even our best work.
This scenario brings us to these often asked questions.
1. When is a good time to hire/bring an evaluator to the project?
Short answer: Early. From the pre-award or planning phase of a grant / application. If an application clearly mentions a need for an evaluation (external or internal), start looking for one right away.
2. But how?
Two good ways…and then there is always the other way–to bid one out (personally, I am not a fan)
i). There are evaluation organization(s) that list names and contacts of professional evaluators/ firms with websites in some cases (e.g., AEA)
ii). Referrals or recommendations from colleagues and/ or past awardees/grantees
3. What will the evaluators do for the grant?
i). Review the application (for a fee/free), provide feedback to improve, even edit (as needed)
ii). Assist/co-develop a logic model for the grant application/program
iii). Develop evaluation questions that are aligned with project goals and objectives
iv). Develop an evaluation plan/framework aligned with data collection sources/methods, analytical techniques, and deliverables (Note: work should be aligned with project/team’s expectations, deliverables, and budget)
4. Who might be ideal for the work?
No (perfect) formula but a few considerations. The firm/consultant…
i). Typically has worked in the area of interest (qualifications and experience matter)
ii). Bring(s) experience and/or expertise in research methods, design, statistical techniques, data viz (a bonus)
iii). Has no conflict of interest
iv). Is collaborative, a team player, and will be a partner in the project.
5. How can one be sure?
Again, no perfect formula but one may request to review their previous work (related projects), check a couple of references, and interview them, if needed.
This is all to say, please plan to contact, engage, partner, and collaborate with an evaluator early. (And please pay them adequately.)
PC: Laura Chouette/Unsplash