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Third-Party Evaluation of the Grant-Application Process

In the grant-seeking world, a third-party evaluator is either an individual evaluation consultant or a firm specializing in program/project evaluation. The evaluator is an impartial person/entity who analyzes the data collected about how a grant-funded program meets its objectives and goals and interprets them for laypersons and professionals from a neutral, objective perspective.

Many funding agencies (particularly federal funding agencies) expect grant applicant organizations to retain the contracted services of a third-party evaluator because an outside consultant is more likely to demonstrate an objective viewpoint for the following:

  • Designing evaluation data collection tools/forms

  • Collecting the data with confidentiality via coding for gender, race, age, and so forth

  • Analyzing the data

  • Interpreting the data for interim and final evaluation reporting purposes to the grant applicant organization's stakeholders — including funders

At each phase of the grant application process, the third-party evaluator has a special role. Before the funding is requested, the third-party evaluator should

  • Participate as a planning-team member.

  • Develop the evaluation plan for the proposal narrative.

  • Provide updated credentials for the grant applicant to include in the attachments of the funding request.

On notification of a grant award, the third-party evaluator should

  • Meet with the implementation team.

  • Develop the processes and tools for data collection, data analysis, project-level evaluation activities, reporting, and using evaluation findings.

To find a third-party evaluator, try one of these tactics, listed in order from most to least preferred:

  • Contact other agencies in your service provider network to ask for a referral for a third-party evaluator. Also, ask if the agency was satisfied with the work and if the findings were accepted by the funding agency without red flags.

  • Call the local four-year college or university to inquire if it has an evaluation research division. If yes, then call the director or dean of the division and ask whether he or she can recommend a staff or faculty member to serve as a third-party evaluator.

  • Search online for independent evaluators as well as evaluation firms in your region and contact the best of the people you find to get pricing schedules and other specifics.

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