Writing the Evaluation Plan for Your Grant Application
After you decide whether to conduct an internal stakeholder or external third-party evaluation, the next step is to start writing or incorporating your evaluation plan into the program design section of the grant application narrative. The evaluation plan goes at the end of the program design narrative if it’s not a stand-alone section.
The funder’s formatting guidelines usually determine the length of each narrative section in the grant proposal. The program design is usually the largest section, so write succinctly but include sufficient details for the funder to see you have a comprehensive evaluation plan.
Your evaluation plan must always be written to address the funding agency’s guidelines. A comprehensive evaluation plan includes a narrative on how the program will be evaluated (qualitatively, quantitatively, or both). It also tells the funder what type of data will be collected; who will be collecting, analyzing, and interpreting the data; and the frequency for the data collection process. Don’t forget to add detail about each target population included in the evaluation process and tell how information or data will be collected from them (by way of survey, questionnaire, visual observation, and more).
Most importantly, make sure all data to be collected is connected to determining your progress toward achieving your measurable objectives, which are presented earlier in the project design section of your application. And remember that your evaluation plan must be specific to your program goals and objectives.
Examples of evaluation plans abound online. If you do an Internet search for sample evaluation plan you find that just about every type of funder (foundation and government) has posted outlines and full narrative sections of its best or preferred type of evaluation plans. Don’t forget to use the Kellogg Foundation’s website to search for and use its Logic Model Development Process information.
The evaluation plan also needs to include information about how you’ll share your evaluation findings with other organizations interested in replicating a successful model program. This sharing process is called dissemination. The dissemination plan, which is usually a paragraph or two, is written at the end of the evaluation plan.
Worried about giving away too many secrets? Don’t be. When you receive a grant award, the funders expect you to share your findings with other organizations and associations. With government grants, everything you do — information and program activities — is subject to public access. Foundation and corporate funders want to maximize their investments, which means you’re obligated to disseminate your evaluation findings. Practically all funders ask for your dissemination plans in their grant application guidelines.
When you write your dissemination narrative, include information on what you’ll share and how you’ll share it. List conferences, forums, website postings, and printed documents mailed out (and to whom they’ll be mailed).
When you’re writing your grant applications, always, always follow the guidelines provided for preparing your narrative sections. In foundation funding requests, the dissemination plan can be short and to the point. However, in government funding requests, you may be instructed to write multiple pages on the dissemination process. Carefully reading and following the funding agency’s guidelines can be the difference between a funded project and a rejected one.