To ring in the new year, we asked our client management team to share their best advice for successful evaluation so you can start 2019 the right way.
1. Set yourself up for success
Monika Bognar, Melbourne
If the beginning of the year is a quiet time at your organisation, it can be a great opportunity to get organised for upcoming evaluations. Plan ahead by:
- Mapping out your evaluation plan for the next 6 to 12 months by creating a survey schedule. Decide which programs you would like to evaluate, think about distribution methods and consider your reporting requirements.
- Creating template surveys that include all the core questions you’d like to ask in all surveys. Once created, you’ll simply be able to make a copy of the template and update for each new survey.
A little work up front can be very helpful when it comes to delivering your program and event evaluations across 2019.
2. Consider the flow of your survey
Jordan Gibbs, Perth
When you’re putting a survey together, think about what it will be like for the person filling it in. Does it flow well and make sense? I start by putting some simple questions up front to get people used to the platform. Something like “is this your first time attending?” eases the respondent into the survey.
In the middle of the survey, before more complex questions such as our dimensions, put a brief statement first to explain what they are and how to respond to them. Then, try arranging these dimensions in the most intuitive order; easy ones up the front, harder ones up the back. Make sure they connect with each other and the survey should be a brisk easy walk to the finish line.
3. Keep your audience in mind
Elli Gemmo, Perth
When distributing your survey think about the type of audience you are aiming to reach and how to effectively communicate what you are trying to achieve. Is the survey about an event? Or is it about a service you provide? Have a clear idea of what you are asking, and make sure it is explained in an engaging way. Also, choosing the right communication platform plays a pivotal role in collecting data and reaching your targeted audience. Take the time to write a marketing plan, decide on whether you will need interviewers or if you are sharing your survey as a link.
4. Are you evaluating what’s actually important?
Sian Tattersall, London
My tip for evaluation is to consider what is important to you and your organisation’s development. A good place to start might be to look at your organisation’s mission statement – what are the ‘key words’? How does your event for evaluation speak to this statement and the key words? Putting the purpose of the event and, ultimately, the organisation at the heart of your evaluation will enable your evaluation to develop around that core, meaning that it is much easier to keep your evaluation and question schedules focused on what is pivotal for you.
5. Trim the fat
Taylor Brodie, Melbourne
You don’t need to conduct a ten-minute survey to gain meaningful data. Although optimal survey lengths can vary widely based on topic, audience, and purpose you should always ensure that each question is actually contributing interesting and actionable data. Don’t simply ask questions for the sake of it.
Shorter surveys can often provide more useful data than long, arduous surveys. The longer the survey, the bigger the risk that respondents answer carelessly, skip questions or even exit out of the survey entirely.
6. Engage your peers
Alison Lasek, Melbourne
It’s a great idea to invite expert peers to give feedback as part of your evaluation. Peers could be directors at collegiate organisations, academic partners or any other respected members of your sector whose opinions you value.
If you ask your peer assessors to answer the same set of questions as the general public you will be able to make interesting comparisons. Often peers are willing to give in depth feedback on your work, so make sure they also have an opportunity to provide longer free text comments as well. Their insights can provide valuable learning opportunities and evidence of the importance of your work to the sector.
7. Keep your reporting simple
Kristine Genovese, Perth
When writing a report, it’s a good idea to compile the headline stats into a list of key findings and to highlight these at the beginning of your document. When it’s time to get into the nitty gritty, *bold* important numbers, keywords and definitions within the copy so that it’s easy for the reader to get a snapshot view of your findings. People are busy (especially arts workers!) and we’re all inundated with info – so make it as easy as possible for the skim-readers to see all of the great things your organisation has been doing.
There's nothing our client managers love talking about than best practice. If you're interested in more tips and tricks get in touch here.