This strategy requires management leadership and uses the rule of thumb approach to estimate the percentage of project funds to spend on evaluation. This could be done more accurately by developing an initial evaluation budget.
Consider collaborating with a local university, research institute, or think tank to conduct your evaluation. When based on common interests, such partnerships can be advantageous to both parties.
Universities may bring technical skills and experience with advanced evaluation options. However, keep in mind that these institutions may have a different organizational mission than your organization, and researchers may have a different motivation for undertaking this study. Ensure that you reach a common understanding on the purpose and focus of the evaluation. Using students may be an affordable option, but this strategy carries risks related to quality control. Also, students may lack the experience necessary to synthesize and prioritize findings.
Universities and research institutions also operate under different budgeting and administrative procedures. Most colleges and universities require researchers to include indirect costs as part of research costs. Determine which costs -- direct and indirect -- that your organization will be expected to pay. There may also be regulations on the number of hours that students can work or volunteer.
The Pell Institute and Pathways to College Institute (2009). Create a Budget. Evaluation Toolkit. Retrieved June 28, 2012, from http://toolkit.pellinstitute.org/evaluation-guide/plan-budget/develop-a-budget/
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