Our evaluation capacity building experience includes working with HOPE Coalition, a Red Wing, Minnesota-based agency that serves people who have lived through domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and homelessness.
Organizations have different levels of resources available for evaluation. Like other nonprofits that serve clients with complex needs and have small budgets, HOPE Coalition was looking to establish sustainable and realistic evaluation methods.
We see capacity building with clients a spectrum that we can join at any point: We can co-create the evaluation with clients and then carry it out it independently; facilitate capacity building workshops during which clients themselves draft deliverables; or somewhere in the middle.
To empower HOPE Coalition staff to use their knowledge of client needs and to give them skills they could apply after our project is finished, we designed a workshop that made them part of the team. We started with a clear overview of logic models by building one with sticky notes, then facilitated the group to build an organization-level logic model together. The client appreciated how we explained logic models in a manner that was clear and simple, without being condescending. Next we took a more hands-off, coaching role as the staff created a program-specific logic model. Post-workshop, the staff worked on their own to create logic models for three more programs, which we reviewed. “By logic model number five we had it down to a fine art,” our client said.
This workshop design created space for a valuable collaboration. While we contributed our expertise in evaluation design, HOPE Coalition staff contributed their experience working with the people they serve. We also were successful because we had studied up on the client in a way that complemented the clients’ own experience. We had a basic understanding of the agency before we arrived—which staff built upon with their deep understanding of programs and services. It meant we could spend less time on learning about the client and more time on evaluation strategy. We ended up using this same capacity building process for developing surveys for each program.
As a result of our work with HOPE Coalition, the agency has developed a “culture of evaluation,” one of its goals before starting the work. By engaging clients as team members, staff grew a sense of ownership in the process that will be sustainable for HOPE Coalition’s evaluation efforts.
“By logic model number five we had it down to a fine art!" - HOPE Coalition Staff