Evaluators are often not the favorite person of the staff of organizations – nonprofits, government agencies, and grant recipients. They usually have some automatic negatives – they’re often required by funders, they’re critical by the job description, they’re nosy and intrusive, and worst of all, they give you a rating.
But the evaluators are not all bad. In fact, they can be very useful tools and weapons. Your efforts and reports can be used to your advantage. Here are some possibilities:
- Breaking off – If there is an association that is not working, but dissolving it would be a public relations fiasco, an evaluator can help you. They can:
- Assess problems
- Determine if the relationship is salvageable, and if so, suggest modifications to improve it.
- Justify the dissolution of the association if that is the best way (be it the bad one)
- Validate compliance with the agreement and responsibilities.
- Error avoidance – When evaluating potential partners and their programs, an evaluator can help you choose the right partners. An evaluator can ask intrusive and intrusive questions because that’s what they do. Understanding the potential and challenges of a partnership is critical to the success of a “marriage.”
- Be your champion – When you need to convince a person or group (board, funder, etc.) to let you do something (add or modify a program, change a policy or procedure, or adopt a new strategy), an evaluator can collect the data and input. They can help you build the case.
- Find the good – One of the best things an evaluator can do, but the least used, is to help you identify assets and clarify messages. This help can provide you with the information you need to increase the effectiveness of your advertising. An evaluator provides an outside view. They also specialize in collecting and analyzing information. The combination of these two things can take your advertising and branding to a whole new level. Talk about improving your reputation!
- Keep your funding – Often times, donors, especially the federal government, require that any program or organization they fund have an external evaluation. So in that case, you need an appraiser to get and keep your funding. But even if an appraisal isn’t required, it can still help you maintain your funding. An evaluator can conduct research and analysis that you and your staff may not have the time or expertise to do. That research and analysis will provide much of the data you need to report required to funders, boards, and donors. The evaluator can even do the report for you. Because you have involved an Evaluator, the report has an additional stamp of credibility, which never hurts when it comes to funding.
- Save money – Yes, hiring an evaluator costs money, but it can also save you money by:
- Get or hold funds
- Giving you back the time you would spend on research, analysis, and reporting.
- Helping you avoid the cost and time wasted of bad associations
- Show you where changes in policy or procedure could reduce costs
So the next time you think you don’t want or need an evaluator, think again. They may be one of your best investments.