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Making evaluations matter: A practical guide for evaluators
by Cecile Kusters with Simone van Vugt, Seerp Wigboldus, Bob Williams and Jim Woodhill
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This guide attempts to provide an overall framework with guiding principles for conducting an evaluation. The guide draws heavily on the experiences of the Centre for Development Innovation, particularly with its work around ‘managing for impact’ in the international PPME-managing for impact course, a regional IFAD-funded capacity development program on managing for impact in East and Southern Africa, strengthening M&E systems of organisations and the many evaluations carried out by CDI.

Chapter 1 presents four core principles underpinning evaluations that matter. These are:

  • utilization-focused and influence/consequence awareness
  • focusing on stakes, stakeholder engagement and learning
  • situational responsiveness
  • multiple evaluator and evaluation roles.

Chapter 2 gives an overview of suggested steps for designing and facilitating evaluations that matter, with a particular focus on utilization and being aware of the possible influences and consequences of evaluations.

In Chapter 3, the role of stakeholders is highlighted in terms of their stakes, participation, consequences of choosing who to involve and who not to involve in the process.

Core concepts and ideas centred on making evaluations learning experiences are presented in Chapter 4.

Chapter 5 brings the possible influences of evaluation on change processes to the surface and explains how you can go about managing change.

The guide concludes by stressing that evaluations are essential by contributing to the general understanding of complex environments in which many of development initiatives take place and that is how we think through our evaluation process that makes the difference in the outcome of the evaluation and how this is utilised. The guide also presents a final list of key points to increase the effectiveness of evaluations.