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evaluation spacer about evaluation

Evaluation is making an informed judgement about the "value" of what we do. It is essential if we are to know whether what we are doing is working, how well it is working and whether we could do it better. Evaluation helps us to identify successes, learn, develop our strategies and tactics, and be accountable.

There are two main strands of evaluation: evaluating effectiveness and evaluating efficiency.

"What difference did we make? What has changed as a result of our actions?"

In some cases we want to take a view on the effectiveness of a project plan and the achievement of objectives. So we ask questions like, "What difference did we make? What has changed as a result of our actions?"

"How could we have got to where we have got to with fewer resources, such as less time, less money, fewer people, less stress?"

In other cases we require recommendations on the efficiency of certain processes used in the implementation of a project. In other words we ask, "How could we have got to where we have got to with fewer resources, such as less time, less money, fewer people, less stress?"

Evaluation is part of the organisational learning cycle of planning - doing - evaluating - adjusting - doing:

Learning cycle: planning, doing, evaluating, adjusting

Impact assessment is a type of evaluation, where we focus on the "input - output - outcome - impact" chain. So in impact assessment we are interested in the ultimate consequence of a project or campaign - i.e. how has it changed the world? Often the crucial question is whether the impact is sustainable in the long term and how.