Finding an external evaluator

Where to find external evaluators and how to choose the right one.

Before you choose to work with someone, consider whether they:

  • share your vision of the evaluation and are sensitive to the project's key principles
  • are culturally competent and can communicate effectively with everyone involved — from organisation leaders and funders to community members and front-line staff
  • have the necessary experience and expertise, eg quantitative and qualitative evaluation experience, communication and facilitation skills, and knowledge of sexual violence issues
  • are interested in the prevention of sexual violence and committed to social change.
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    Ways to find evaluators

  • Word of mouth recommendation

    Contact colleagues at other organisations, ask your funders or seek out recommendations from trusted sources.

    Search research directories

    Community Research (New Zealand) has a directory of community researchers. You can search by location, qualification, ethnicity and expertise.

    Directory of community researchers — Community Research (New Zealand)

    Advertise

    Advertise on job websites, or your own organisation's website and newsletters.

    Find university researchers

    University-based researchers can bring high levels of expertise and prestige to evaluations. However, they may have teaching, supervision, publishing, and other research commitments, and universities can charge indirect fees.

    Cost and time pressures can be reduced by involving graduate students, but they'll have less experience than seasoned researchers.

    Contact evaluation consulting firms

    Consulting firms usually have good infrastructure to support evaluations, though they often have time pressures from multiple projects and charge substantial overheads.

    Consulting firms tend to involve multiple researchers on projects. This means that project teams have a diverse range of skills, but some team members will have more experience than others.

     

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    Choosing the right evaluator

  • You may have more than one candidate who may be suitable. To choose a candidate, you may want to:

    • conduct face-to-face interviews. Think carefully about who'll conduct interviews and how to schedule them — it might be helpful to conduct a mock interview ahead of time to ensure that your interview schedule, questions, and system of assessment are clear and relevant
    • review candidates' work. As well as looking at CVs and previous work, you can ask candidates to present to you how they would approach your evaluation
    • introduce candidates to key stakeholders
    • check candidates' references, including faculty members (for university-based researchers), current and former employers, and clients the evaluator has previously worked with. Consider compiling a list of questions to ask references
    • ask the candidate what they hope to get out of the evaluation process and what motivated them to consider your project. This may help you determine whether the candidate shares your vision and goals.

    You may also want to ask your pool of candidates to respond to an RFP.

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    Preparing an RFP (request for proposals)

  • If you want to consider a number of applications from potential evaluators, an RFP ensures you receive a standard response. Your RFP will need:

    • the name of your organisation
    • background of your organisation and activity
    • the objectives of the evaluation, eg "to assess changes in skills, knowledge and behaviour around sexual violence prevention"
    • the research scope, eg prepare literature review, find statistics relating to sexual violence among our target group
    • the expected time commitment, key responsibilities and deliverables
    • available budget
    • application instructions.

    It helps to request that the responses are kept brief. Ask the respondents to include:

    • their methodology — how they'd go about finding out the information you need
    • their professional expertise, qualifications and skills
    • a budget breakdown
    • a timeline (and confirmation of their capacity to complete the deliverables within the timeframe)
    • examples of relevant previous work.
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    Once you've chosen an evaluator

  • Once you've decided who will conduct the evaluation, it's important to work on building and maintaining strong relationships between evaluators and key stakeholders.

    You'll need to set up:

    • a clear contract, which sets out what's expected, key deliverables and responsibilities, key personnel (if working with a team), payment amounts and schedules, and data ownership and confidentiality
    • regular and open communication to make sure everyone is on the same page about expectations, deliverables, and timelines
    • ongoing assessment to check progress, examine new issues and opportunities, and consider the impact the evaluation is having on your work
    • access to any resources and skills necessary to carry out the evaluation.