1. Section Introduction
So, we’ve completed our evaluation activities and analyzed our data – now what?
The next and final steps involve sharing what we’ve learned and using evaluation to further organizational learning. The following sections provide tips on writing a formal evaluation report and planning for how we want our evaluation results to be used. We then look at developing a communications strategy to share our results.
2. Writing an Evaluation Report
Let the report writing begin!
Once data analysis has been completed, it’s time to craft the final report. Reporting can consist of brief memos, visual presentations or oral reports. The most common, however, is the formal evaluation report. A strong report will include the following:
- Description of the program being evaluated
- Clear statement about the evaluation questions and the purpose of the evaluation
- Description of the data collection methods used
- Summary of key findings (including tables, graphs, vignettes, quotes, etc.)
- Discussion or explanation of the meaning and importance of key findings
- Suggested Action Steps
- Next Steps (for the program and the evaluation)
- Issues for Further Consideration (loose ends)
A report outline done in advance will help to lay out the report preparation process. If commissioning an evaluation report, ask to see a report outline in advance. If creating the report directly, the following document will help to guide the process.
3. Ensuring Evaluation Findings are Used
Once the report is prepared, laying the groundwork for sharing the results is an important aspect of evaluation. How the results will be shared is connected to the original purpose of the evaluation. Once again, considering the stakeholders and intended audiences for our evaluation results will be a key part of how we will share them. The resources below will help to identify ways to share our findings that are uniquely suited to our program and organizational needs.
4. Data Visualization
Using data visualizations, such as charts and infographics, help to make our evaluation results more compelling. It enables us to tell a story with our data that is more accessible than a written report. We’ve curated a list of websites and resources that facilitate getting started with data visualization and provide some tips for visual design.
5. Sharing Results
Just because our evaluation results are published doesn’t mean they’ll reach our desired audience and have the impact we intend. This is why is a well laid-out plan for communication and dissemination of our evaluation results should be a part the overall evaluation plan. Communicating evaluation results involves sharing information in ways that make it understandable and useful to stakeholders. Successful communication is key to evaluation results being used.
Publicly sharing evaluation results can be tricky, especially if parts of the evaluation are considered proprietary and confidential. However, to the best extent possible, communication of results should be included as an integral part of evaluation reporting, particularly since publicizing results could lead to increased funding and additional program support.
The resources below take us step by step through the process of developing and implementing a communication plan.
- Youth Research and Evaluation Exchange – Knowledge Mobilization Planning Form
- Youth Research and Evaluation Exchange – YouthREX Share Evaluation Findings
- Evaluative Thinking – Evaluative Thinking Bulletin 6
- CDC – Developing and Effective Evaluation Report
- Pell Institute – Develop a Communications Plan
- CDC – Evaluation Reporting Guide