Questions to Consider
When selecting an evaluator there are two main questions to consider. What is wanted or mandated from an evaluation? What kind of evaluator is needed to complete such an evaluation? Organizations may want an evaluation to
- Test the efficacy of the program
- Test the program’s adherence to a set of goals
- See how a program can be improved
- Learn about the population being served
- Due to mandates set forth by the funder
All of these are valid reasons to hire an evaluator, however, there are different evaluation styles and methodology to consider before the hire becomes official. It is important to remember the purpose of the evaluation in question in order to choose the best evaluator for the job.
Supporting small business feels good and helps the local economy thrive. A great option for hiring an evaluator is to hire a local to perform the services. University Research Administration Departments and Community Partnership Offices can often help provide leads and can be screened by department/area of expertise such as Psychology, Science, Health Care, Engineering, Business, and technology. Many local business consulting firms and some grant writers offer these services as well.
Tip: A small agile company, like E.B. Howard Consulting can serve much the same purpose as a local company and has the added advantage of offering lower overhead and state of the art technology.
Use References/Word of Mouth
Colleagues can be a valuable resource when finding an evaluator. Networking and asking for references can lead to finding the perfect fit. Even if no immediate colleagues have a recommendation, it is likely they may know someone who knows someone and so on. The other benefit of choosing an evaluator via reference is the added security that a colleague has worked with this evaluator before and found the experience to be a positive one.
National Associations exist where evaluators obtain membership to the organization and are entered into a searchable database. One reliable association to investigate is the American Evaluation Association. This company provides a searchable database to help connect evaluators to those who want to hire them.
If other options are not viable, there is always google. Running a quick search for evaluators will lead to quite a few results to choose from. This is a great way to shop around to find a rate of pay that fits the program’s budget. Searching for an evaluator online may well yield more results about the evaluator’s professional preparation and areas of expertise than finding an evaluator through reference or national association.
Many grant writers or business consultants have a background in evaluation and are willing to provide this service to their clients.