How To Tell If Your Funding Line Requires an Independent External Evaluator

  • September 21st, 2020

Some lines of funding may require Independent External Evaluation.

This is a way for funding organizations to gather evidence that their funding dollars are producing results and that grantees are adhering to the program practices they committed to in their proposal. (Essentially, did you do what you said you were going to do under your goals and objectives?)

Other funding lines may require evaluation but will allow Internal Evaluation. Some funding lines will not outright say they require evaluation but will offer hints that the addition of an evaluation plan can offer a competitive edge to proposals. Increasing the likelihood that funding will be awarded.

TIP: Federal and foundation funding lines may require or strongly encourage the inclusion of evaluation services, most typically in the form of an External Independent Evaluator.

How To Determine Evaluation Requirements in Funding Lines

The best way to determine the evaluation requirements of any given funding line is to read the Request for Proposals. Somewhere within this document, there should be either direct language or an allusion to how the funder expects the project to be evaluated.

An example of a funding opportunity setting a requirement for “the development and implementation of a standard framework to assess the SBIR and STTR programs.”

The above example illustrates the reporting policies in SBIR awards. Participating agencies include the Departments Of Defense, Health and Human Services, Energy, Agriculture, Homeland Security, Education, Commerce and Transportation as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, National Science Foundation, and National Aeronautics & Space Administration. Most federal agencies will require some sort of evaluation, and the majority of these prefer the evaluation be external to avoid bias.

Programatic Reporting Requirements

Performance reporting requirements include those for both programmatic reporting and fiscal reporting. The grantee is responsible for ensuring that all reports are accurate, complete, and submitted on time. Achievement of grant goals and objectives will be monitored through the final report process. Programmatic Reporting Requirements

The following is required of all grant recipients, It must be reported in the final evaluation report for the period in which the activity occurred:

1) How the grant increased industry/employer awareness,

2) How the grant funds were spent in direct support of students,

3) The total number of schools and an increased number of schools using the industry-based curriculum and partnering with the industry organization,

4) The total number of students and the increase in the number of students in supported programs, and

5) An overview and analysis of the organization’s statewide student competition.

Fiscal Reporting Requirements

The grantee must submit a final financial report to the SCDE that covers the duration of the grant award.

Example of evaluation requirements from the State of South Carolina Department of Education
ReportsReporting PeriodReport Due Date
1st Interim Report September 15–December 31, 2018December 31, 2018
Testing Results (if applicable)September 15, 2018–June 30, 2019June 30, 2019
Final Program and Fiscal ReportSeptember 15, 2018–June 30, 2019August 1, 2019

As can be seen in the example above, some Requests for Proposals (RPFs) do not outright say that evaluation must occur, but instead, mandate certain reports often with due dates attached that would be impossible to produce without some sort of evaluation plan.

Most federal, state, and foundation RPFs will require or prefer evaluation to take place. Get ahead of the game by creating an evaluation plan and choosing an external independent evaluator at the beginning of the proposal process.

Even if a funding line does not require evaluation, evaluation helps measure the success of any project and is an invaluable tool for project or company improvement at any stage.


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