Veteran authors Marcia Festen and Marianne Philbin break down the evaluation process into five stages planning, asking, tracking, learning, and using and show you how to integrate evaluation into your ongoing work. Their approach emphasizes that evaluation at its best is about learning rather than judging and improving rather than proving, and that it is overall an integral part of achieving your mission.
The book draws on the authors′ experience with nonprofits, foundations, donors, and boards of directors, and the expertise of evaluation professionals and nonprofit managers. It includes sample forms, checklists, and materials that have been used successfully by real–life organizations, and provides sample meeting agendas that will help you make decisions and move through an evaluation process from start to finish. In easy–to–follow steps, Level Best will help you develop your evaluation plan, gather your data, and use the lessons learned to strengthen your organization and make the best possible case for continued support.
Praise for Level Best
"Level Best not only demystifies the process of evaluation, it offers a reasonable approach that makes sense for programs with limited time, money, or staff to devote to this area."
Eric Delli Bovi, development director, Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago, Illinois
"Of all the resources I′ve consulted on evaluation, Level Best is the most practical, the most readable, and the most supportive. The authors understand not only how great our challenges are, but how little time we have for anything that does not address our real needs which this book does."
Ruth Barrett Rendler, deputy director, The Center for Victims of Torture, Minneapolis, Minnesota
"Offers solid guidance, clear direction, and practical applications for effective planning and program development."
Daranee Petsod, executive director, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, Sebastopol, California
"A guide which avoids jargon and overcomplicated systems by simplifying and clarifying the process for smaller and newer groups. It will be a much–used and much–appreciated tool."
Susannah Quem Pratt, coordinator of evaluation, Lilly Endowment′s Religion Division
How to Use This Book.
Instruction with Samples and Examples.
1 Understanding Evaluation.
Evaluation as Power Instead of Pain.
What Evaluation Is and What It Is Not.
2 A Simple Evaluation Framework.
The Basic Evaluation Framework.
Key Concepts:What to Evaluate and How to Get Started.
The Rolling Evaluation Method.
3 Planning Your Evaluation.
A Quick Review of Basic Organizational Readiness.
Definition of an Effective Organization.
What You Plan Affects What You Learn.
Step by Step: Planning Your Evaluation.
Understanding Funders Needs and Fitting Them into Your Evaluation Plan.
Why Setting Goals Makes Evaluation Easier.
How You Can Prepare.
4 Asking the Right Questions.
Clear Program Goals Guide Evaluation Questions and Choices.
What to Evaluate:What You Do Versus What Your Constituents Do.
If or Then:Which to Evaluate?
The Relationship Between Evaluating What You Do (Process) and What They Do (Outcome).
Determine the Right Questions.
Ask What You Really Want to Know.
How Advocacy Organizations Can Approach Evaluation.
How to Be Answerable When Advocacy and Organizing Are Your Agenda.
Ideas for Measuring Organizing Efforts.
5 Tracking Information.
Options for Tracking Information.
The Right Goal Statement Helps Determine the Right Things to Track.
6 Learning From and Using the Information.
Making Use of Your Information.
Organizing Your Information.
Using What You Learn.
Sharing Your Evaluation Results with the Outside World.
Feeding Results into the Cycle of Planning.
Tying Evaluation into Planning.
Deciding Where to Begin.
Incorporating Evaluation into Your Strategic Planning Process.
A Commonly Used Terms and Their Definitions.
B Types of Evaluation.
C Sample Completed Evaluation Planning Worksheet.
D Sample Evaluation Report Outline.
E Program Evaluation Standards.
About the Authors.