In addition to the multitude of other requirements, many funding opportunities (especially those in the federal funding and state funding realm) mandate project reporting as a requirement in the Request for Proposals (RFP). Evaluations measure the same key points and information as end of year reporting requirements in RFPs. But evaluations can be new and uncharted ground for many. Luckily writing them into your proposal does not need to be stressful or confusing. A few simple tips and tricks can easily demystify the entire process.
Since the evaluator will be a crucial component of measuring the relative success of the proposed project, selecting a specific program evaluator should not be an afterthought. During the planning stages, key personnel are selected that will carry out the project. The Independent External Evaluator is most definitely key personnel and should be chosen alongside the Principal Investigator, Engineer, Data Collection Manager, and other integral personnel.
Tip: The Independent External Evaluator is considered Key Personnel and should be selected before the project commences.
Independent External Evaluators help to establish goals & objectives in the proposal so that when it is time to collect data and measure outcomes, the project or program activities are captured accurately and outcomes are demonstrated.
Many Request for Proposals may have requirements to demonstrate how outcomes will be measured and who will be responsible for measuring said activities should funding be awarded. This may come in the form of direct language that specifically requires an Independent External Evaluator or it may be less overt questions or sections within the Request for Proposals (RFP) that ask for an explanation regarding how outcomes will be evaluated and data will be collected and assessed in the interest of demonstrating outcomes. Language such as this is a clue that the funder is seeking winning proposals that have a strong evaluation plan developed by an Independent External Evaluator. Naming an evaluator in the proposal creates a stronger, more competitive proposal that is likely to increase the chances of being awarded.
TIP: Naming your evaluator in your proposal creates a stronger, more competitive proposal that is likely to increase the chances of being awarded.
Costs for evaluation services are typically included in the budget of the grant proposal and do not incur additional out of pocket costs for hiring Independent External Evaluators. It is important to note that some funding lines cap the cost of evaluation (e.g. ranging from 5% to 7% of the budget) while others have an expected range for services (e.g. ranging from 7% to 10% of the budget). Of course, the level of detail and scope of work required by the evaluator will dictate what the costs of services are to a certain extent. However, always check the RFP and/or confirm with the RFP key contact on what is an allowable cost and percentage for evaluation services before finalizing the budget. This will help frame the activities and role of the Independent External Evaluator.
Tip: Always check your RFP and/or confirm with your RFP key contact on what is an allowable cost and percentage for evaluation services before finalizing your budget.