Before you begin an evaluation

​Rigorous evaluations can tell us if what we're doing is making a difference. Sharing your evaluation means your learnings can improve other activities, too.

What is an evaluation

An evaluation is a way of measuring the success of a prevention activity.

At its most basic, an evaluation involves:

  • asking questions
  • analysing the answers
  • reporting on your findings
  • making changes based on what you've learned.

An evaluation should:

  • focus on assessing short, mid and long-term outcomes — you should aim to measure attitude and behaviour change rather than participant satisfaction
  • seek to understand both the goals and the outcomes of activities — focus on how to strengthen the activity going forward
  • engage and collaborate with providers and participants.

Why evaluate your activities

We need rigorous evaluations that can tell us if what we are doing is making a difference. These then need to be shared.

Evaluating an activity can:

  • identify changes to make the activity more effective
  • build your team's pride and confidence in their work
  • maintain accountability for activity outcomes
  • help to measure the difference the activity is making to its audience
  • contribute to our core knowledge of what works.

When to do an evaluation

Ideally, you should plan how you'll evaluate your success when you're designing your activity. This makes it easy to build in ways to collect data, respond and change quickly, and stay accountable to your goals.

You can use this guide and the what works section of the site to help you design an evaluation for an existing activity.

What works

An evaluation will be most effective if your organisation has:

  • a culture of valuing learning and viewing mistakes as learning opportunities
  • leaders who are willing and able to support evaluation, foster collective learning, and use research to inform their decision-making
  • systems and structures that reward learning and innovation, allow flexibility in adapting approaches, and promote collaboration
  • strong communication between stakeholders, employees, and leaders
  • strong practices of teamwork and participatory decision-making
  • widespread support for evaluation among employees, leaders, and other stakeholders.

The ROLE tool can help you decide if you're ready to evaluate your activity.

Readiness for Organizational Learning and Evaluation Instrument (ROLE) — Preskill and Torres