Government and not-for-profit organisations of the 21st century need to be more responsive, more transparent and better engaged with the communities they serve. They need to demonstrate value and be able to learn and adapt to changing needs, constraints and opportunities.

As a consequence, it is important to invest in strengthening the knowledge, skills and processes needed for the effective use of evidence and evaluation, creating opportunities to apply tried-and-tested methods, explore new approaches and collaboratively build effective systems. Capacity to choose the right methods and processes to gather evidence and to monitor, report and reflect on the results, are skills that all decision makers need.

Defining, assessing and communicating success

We all want to make a positive difference. We all want our policies and programs to improve people’s lives. But how do we know if what we’re doing is meeting the mark? How do we know if it’s the best use of our resources?

Organisations which create a culture of evaluative thinking and organisational learning are better equipped to:

  • understand what they need to achieve and how
  • monitor their performance
  • improve their services
  • deliver and communicate success.

Visit the Hub services and other activities page for more information on how the Evidence and Evaluation Hub can assist your organisation.

Supporting decision making

Evaluation is fundamentally about knowing if policy implementation or service delivery is working. But every evaluation adds to your understanding of what your audiences need and how they use your services.

Sound evaluation is not just a retrospective review – it includes integrated monitoring at all stages of implementation, and forms the basis for continuous improvement. It’s not just about knowing if policy implementation or service delivery is working, but also about improving your understanding of what is needed, and what changes could make things work better.

While the concept might seem simple, it takes time, skills and commitment to identify, gather and combine the evidence needed. Effective evaluation lays the foundation for better implementation and supports innovation and improvement.

Doing evaluation well includes:

  • investing time at the beginning of a program to define the desired outcomes and the information needed to monitor progress, including key performance indicators
  • harnessing commitment and evidence-gathering capabilities across the organisation
  • sharing the results – communicating with staff and audiences about the results and the impact.

Visit the Research and resources page for more information on the supporting information and resources available to you and your organisation.

Understanding evidence and evaluation strengthens organisations

Understanding what good evaluation and monitoring looks like and what it can achieve are essential skills for public sector and not-for-profit staff. It requires an understanding of the organisation, its capabilities and the outcomes it is looking to achieve.

Senior staff

Key users need to be able to manage the evaluation and monitoring function, set appropriate policy, direct internal or external consultants, and have an overview of methods and processes for gathering, analysing, reporting and using evidence.

Staff involved in evaluation

Evaluation and monitoring requires more than just technical skills. In addition to having knowledge of a range of ways of generating, analysing, sharing and using evidence, and strategies to assess their appropriateness for particular purposes, staff involved with evaluation and monitoring need facilitation and communication skills to work effectively with end-users.

Frontline staff

Frontline staff are often vital in collecting evidence. Understanding the purpose and importance of evidence collection is critical to the validity of evaluation data and to staff motivation. They need to be part of the process of planning, implementing and using evaluation.

Visit the Hub services and other activities page for more information on how the Evidence and Evaluation Hub can strengthen capacity within your organisation.