- Commit to midterm evaluations at a minimum to ensure that the correct indicators and methods are being used. A midterm evaluation also allows you to incorporate new learning for the remainder of your public engagement campaign or project.
- Consider iterative evaluation (ongoing evaluation which incorporates feedback in a cycle of learning, adjustment, monitoring, and evaluating during the project). Building on the point above, iterative evaluation would have several moments identified in the life of your public engagement project to incorporate lessons learned. Iterative evaluation is of great value in creating a responsive public engagement program and a learning culture in the organization.
- Ensure that your evaluation methods can be replicated and scaled up.
- Do not wait until the end of your project to conduct your evaluation, or the accuracy and credibility of the data and reporting will suffer. Your data will be less meaningful and less exact. Also, you might not have used the right indicators nor the right methods to efficiently measure your impact, thereby distorting your data. You will also have missed many opportunities for learning and improvement throughout the project.
- Don’t collect data that is not meaningful or useful. If an audience is witness to pointless data collection, it can lead to disengagement or apathy. Be careful and mindful about why and when you collect data. Ask yourself: What are you promising people in return? What is the benefit for participants? Be transparent about what the data will be used for.
“There is pressure to have quantitative results and quantitative indicators, such as number of pamphlets that we handed out or the number of participants that came to the workshop, as these things are easy and cheap to count. There are definitely funders who want to take that approach; this is challenging, as sometimes the indicators that are easy to get are not the ones that are really meaningful.”
-Monitoring & Evaluation Specialist