Program evaluation is a way to judge the effectiveness of a program. It can also provide valuable information to ensure that the program is maximally capable of achieving its intended results. Some of the common reasons for conducting program evaluation are to:
- monitor the progress of a program’s implementation and provide feedback to stakeholders about various ways to increase the positive effects of the program
- measure the outcomes, or effects, produced by a program in order to determine if the program has achieved success and improved the lives of those it is intended to serve or affect
- provide objective evidence of a program’s achievements to current and/or future funders and policy makers
- elucidate important lessons and contribute to public knowledge.
There are numerous reasons why a program manager or an organizational leader might chose to conduct an evaluation. Too often however, we don’t do things until we have to. Program evaluation is a way to understand how a program or initiative is doing. Compliance with a funder’s evaluation requirements need not be the only motive for evaluating a program. In fact, learning in a timely way about the achievements of, and challenges to, a program’s implementation—especially in the early-to-mid stages of a program’s implementation—can be a valuable and strategic endeavor for those who oversee programs. Evaluation is a way to learn about and to strengthen programs.