Evaluation Budget Matrix

Synonyms: 
Budget matrix

An evaluation budget matrix specifies various items that need to be costed as individual line items.  Evaluation planning and budgeting are intimately connected, developing a budget matrix involves thinking through the cost implications of the evaluation design.  

An evaluation budget matrix specifies various items that need to be costed as individual line items.  Evaluation planning and budgeting are intimately connected, developing a budget matrix involves thinking through the cost implications of the evaluation design. 

The budget matrix may outline costs for planning, data collection, analysis, reporting an evaluation. The cost-per-activity format specifies the personnel, days, and other costs required for each evaluation activity.  Sub-categories may also be included for individual data collection options.  A cost-per-activity format illustrates the budget implications of an evaluation design and facilitates adjustments as evaluators and planners work to optimize the design to suit the available resources. Another common approach organises costs into expenditure categories such as personnel, equipment and supplies and travel.

Personnel costs often comprise a significant budget category. Data collection can also be a major expense, particularly when paying service users for their time as interviewees or training a large workforce in data collection. Different evaluation designs have different costs. For example, the budget for a participatory evaluation may involve extensive capacity building and management costs to train participants as researchers and support them throughout the evaluation process. Costs associated with qualitative options (such as a case study or participant observation) may be more difficult to estimate in advance than quantitative options.

Excel or bookkeeping software packages are useful tools for developing the budget matrix. The budget matrix may also include columns to help in tracking expenditure and the remaining balance.

Advice

Advice for CHOOSING this option (tips and traps)

Start with a detailed list of predicted costs.  Drafting an evaluation budget matrix is an iterative process; expect to return to the budget as you progress in planning the evaluation.

Advice for USING this option (tips and traps)

Your organization may have a specific format for evaluation budgets. If the cost categories represent only a summary view, you may wish to develop a detailed version for your own planning purposes.

If budgeting for a complicated evaluation design, or if adjustments in budget and evaluation design are required during planning consider using the cost-per-activity budget matrix. 

Resources

Tools

The Checklist for Developing and Evaluating Evaluation Budgets: the comprehensive nature of this checklist makes it a good place to start in drafting an evaluation budget matrix.

Examples

Project Evaluation Guide for Nonprofit Organizations: page 17 of this guide has an example of an evaluation budget organized according to evaluation activities 

Evaluation Toolkit: Sample Budget: a straightforward example of an evaluation budget that lists costs associated with four basic expenditure categories: staffing, materials and supplies, equipment and travel.

Sources

Jerry Horn, 2001, The Checklist for developing end evaluating evaluation budgets, The Evaluation Center Western Michigan University

Fataneh Zarinpoush 2006, Project Evaluation Guide for Nonprofit Organizations Imagine Canada  

Evaluation Toolkit, The Pell Institute and Pathways to College Network

Updated: 14th January 2014 - 1:51am
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A special thanks to this page's contributors
Author
Reviewer
Research Fellow, RMIT University.
Melbourne.

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