Starting out, I (really) struggled to budget evaluation tasks for a project. I would often “guesstimate,” and then suffer in silence.
So, here’s a simple pie chart to help guide/navigate the budgeting aspects of typical evaluation tasks if a client asks you to breakdown the costs per activity/task. The costs are all inclusive (direct, indirect, overhead to make it easy to understand.)
Please note: For projects (or contracts) that are paid in a lump sum, there is perhaps not an easy way to clearly divvy up the dollars per task but for a medium or a larger project (e.g., 25K-100K+/year), this visual representation could be potentially useful.
The most common tasks for an evaluation project are: Evaluation planning/plan development or revision, Data collection, Data analysis, and Reporting and Dissemination.
Here are some details per task:
1. Project management: Evaluation plan development, tweaks, project meetings, check-ins, Institutional Review Board (IRB) completion – if needed, developing data sharing agreements/MOUs, database/spreadsheet preparation, development of data collection tools/protocols, and document review (15%)
2. Data collection: On-off site data collection tasks such as pre/post surveys, observations, interviews, focus group(s), etc (20%)
3. Data analyses: Data cleaning, coding/themes generation, modeling, narrative analyses, parametric/non-parametric quantitative data analyses (25%)
4. Reporting and Dissemination: Data summaries/briefs, interim, and final project report(s) and presentation(s) to the client and/or other stakeholders (40%).
Although, it’s hard to exactly divvy up the number of hours each task would take per staff (labor hours/cost) across the grant year(s) as they will most certainly ebb and flow but it’s fair to +/- the tasks’ hours per staff based on the project’s life cycle and needs.
The key is being flexible, able to assess the needs of the project as it progresses and matures, and thus, aligning time to complete the evaluation tasks accordingly.