Overcoming Evaluation Anxiety

Last week, I was fortunate to join over 1,000 people at the National Sexual Assault Conference in Pittsburgh, PA.  What a treat to be surrounded by so many amazing and talented people who are passionate about ending sexual violence!

As a staff member at the conference, one of my duties was to monitor workshops.  In doing this, I was able to see first-hand some great presentations, two of which focused on evaluation.  One thing that I noticed in these workshops, and in several conversations I had with fellow preventionists, is that people are hungry for practical evaluation information and resources.  Just a few short years ago, the mere mention of evaluation struck feelings of fear and intimidation in many.  I know because I was one of those people.  But, in doing some targeted evaluation capacity building of my own, and engaging in thoughtful conversations with other preventionists and evaluation experts, I’ve come to see (like many) that evaluation is not a thing to be feared.  It is a necessary and important step in developing and carrying out effective prevention strategies in our communities.  Now, does that mean I am BFFs with logic models and Excel spreadsheets?  No.  There are still parts of the evaluation process that I struggle to like, let alone love.  But, I’m at the point where I see the value in each step; each of those points us to the end result where we find out if and how our strategies are working, and how we can improve them. 

In the coming months, the NSVRC will be working diligently to gather evaluation resources to add to our ever-growing collection.  Over the next year, we will be working to develop an online evaluation toolkit.  We are also developing an online course covering data analysis as a follow-up to our popular Evaluating Sexual Violence Prevention Programs: Steps and Strategies for Preventionists.   We would love to know what your favorite evaluation resources are.  Please share them by commenting below!