Scope and design what you need
Be a Learning Organisation
Sharing what you learn from evidence you gather and evaluate has three components:
- Determine main audiences for the findings.
- Present findings in a compelling way.
- Share insights widely.
Determining main audience/s
The audience for your findings will influence how you present and share your findings.
For example, you might share the progress of your project with a community with a few charts or infographics in school notices or neighbourhood newsletters.
Influencing public policy and national funders is likely to require a much more thorough report. You would demonstrate the validity of the method and results of the evaluation, on which you might base recommendations. You would show their national relevance.
Most funders of services and projects will be interested in what difference their investment has made. Discussing what type of evidence would satisfy them can be very useful before the work starts.
The days of doorstop evaluation reports are fading fast. Most people don’t want to read a lot of text and useful findings can get lost in dense written reports.
Communications specialist turned evaluator, Glenn O’Neil, shares these six ways to communicate evaluation findings:
- Summary sheets. A shorter document will much more likely be read than the full report (see here for Better Evaluation guidance on executive summaries and friendly reporting).
- Findings tables. There is a risk of dumbing down but presenting the raw findings can communicate your messages very strongly (see here for guidance on posters).
- Scorecards or dashboards are used commonly for real-time monitoring (see here for guidance on organisational dashboards and reputational dashboards).
- Interactive web-pagesor web apps e.g. http://www.ushahidi.com/ (see here for guidance on website communication).
- Photostory or comic strips (see here for guidance on cartoons, photographs and pictures).
- Multimedia video report (see here for guidance on using video).
Glenn also gives seven tips for using new ways to present findings (seven is reportedly the limit of items the average person can remember):
- Thought needs to be given to communicating findings before the evaluation starts.
- Many communication tools can be made simply but you often need a budget.
- Once main findings are finalised think about what points to communicate.
- The tool(s) you use will depend largely upon the audience and the level of interactivity desired.
- Findings will be little-seen without a plan to promote them.
- Use social media to raise awareness, for interactivity or distribution.
- For the doubters – visualising findings increases understanding and messages retention.
If you don’t have the expertise in-house to present your findings well, consider building in a budget to pay for this expertise when you seek funding. If possible, make sure the skills you buy are taught to people in your team.
Sharing insights widely
Opportunities to share online in Aotearoa New Zealand include:
- Community Research New Zealand – a place to find and upload local research and evaluation: www.communityresearch.org.nz
- Whānau Ora Research – a home for whānau/family focused research and learning: www.whanauoraresearch.co.nz
- Aotearoa New Zealand Evaluation Association – New Zealand’s foremost evaluation related website: www.anzea.org.nz
You could also publish your evaluation on academic and research publishing sites like:
You might also submit the report to a New Zealand journal such as:
- Evaluation Matters – He Take Tō Te Aromatawai
- Social Work Now (Child Youth & Family)
- New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online (Royal Society of New Zealand)
Or you might interest an international journal in your research – here’s a quick overview of options for that process.