Evaluation budget matrix

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.

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 methods.  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 methods (such as a case study or participant observation) may be more difficult to estimate in advance than quantitative methods.

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 for choosing this method

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 method

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. 


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

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