When you need an evaluation consultant, you usually need one sooner rather than later. Your proposal narrative might require a high-level evaluation plan to be competitive. The report that’s due next month might require data analysis that’s beyond in-house capacity.
“Because program evaluation is an imperative of good management, and because grant proposals require a description of the program evaluation approach, nonprofit managers should establish a relationship with a well-suited evaluation consultant,” said Barbara Floersch, chief of training and curriculum of The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, Calif. “If you wait until you need one to look for one, you’re likely to end up with a less than optimal match.”
- But where do you look for a consultant? Here are a few ideas.
- Your colleague organizations might use professional evaluation consultants. If so, ask them with whom they work. Their consultants could also be a good fit for your needs or might be able to recommend other experts who will be a better fit.
- City, county, state, or federal agencies that administer grants will know of evaluation consultants who are experts in their fields of interest. Reach out to staff members at these grantmaking government agencies and request contact information for consultants they know and trust.
- Faculty members at near-by universities might have expertise in program evaluation. Even if they don’t do consulting, they could be able to recommend appropriate professionals who can help you.
- Even private research firms that don’t specialize in your field of interest might be able to direct you to professional contacts that can help.
- Check out the American Evaluation Association. Their website (www.eval.org) includes a “Find an Evaluator” function that might be helpful.
Before you begin contacting prospective consultants, be sure you’re clear on what you want from the relationship. “Having a professional evaluator as an arm’s-length member of your team will be a tremendous benefit to your organization,” said Floersch. “It’s worth the time it takes to find the right one.” © Copyright 2019 The Grantsmanship Center.