Fundamentals of Evaluating Partnerships
Conducting partnership evaluation requires both staff and fiscal resources. Before planning such an evaluation, it is necessary to first identify funds in the program budget and staff who can lead the work. It is not unusual to dedicate 5-10% of a project budget to evaluation. Assistance with budgeting can come from discussion with colleagues in the state health department and state contracting offices about the costs of previous similar evaluation activities.
Partnership evaluation is a good collaborative activity for state chronic disease programs, who can share development and implementation costs. State colleagues may already have partnership evaluation tools or strategies they would be willing to share. Partners may also have evaluation staff that could help plan and conduct evaluation activities.
Universities and Prevention Research Centers (http:// www.cdc.gov/prc/) are also good evaluation resources. Check for evaluation classes or programs that require class projects, a master’s thesis, or an internship. Student energy and faculty leadership on these projects make for a winning combination. Ask about consulting services or community service projects as well.
The American Evaluation Association is an association of professional evaluators that is “devoted to the application and exploration of program evaluation, personnel evaluation, technology, and many other forms of evaluation” (http://www.eval.org). American Evaluation Association affiliates are located throughout the United States. Check with a local affiliate for potential resources.
This guide applies the CDC Evaluation Framework (http://www.cdc.gov/eval/evalguide.pdf) [PDF–1.3M] to evaluating your partnership. The Framework lays out a six-step process for the decisions and activities involved in conducting an evaluation. While the framework provides “steps” for program evaluation, the steps are not always linear; some can be completed concurrently. In some cases, it makes more sense to skip a step and come back to it. The important thing is that all the steps are addressed. The steps and a brief description of each are listed below. Each is described in more detail on the pages that follow. Sections of the guide are linked to this outline and the CDC framework by a “bubble” graphic in which the highlighted bubble identifies the corresponding point in the framework.