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Can Evaluation Help Build Community?

Can Evaluation Help Build Community?

We have talked about how to use evaluation for good, but we want to expand that conversation to talk about how evaluation, if approached through a social justice lens, can help to build community. First, let’s think about why folks evaluate their programs in the first place. Sometimes it is just because it is a requirement; but in our evaluation toolkit, we share how evaluation can help support prevention by:

  • measuring the change we seek to create in the world, 
  • helping us see where we are doing well and where we need to make improvements,
  • telling the story of our work,
  • informing strategic decisions, and
  • practicing accountability to participants, community members, and funders.

We recently shared preliminary results from NSVRC’s 2024 National Strengths and Needs Assessment. Those results showed us that more states are connecting sexual violence prevention with issues that address multiple community needs. We also wanted to explore what the results say about how evaluation supports building community connections. NSVRC has been providing support to help Coalitions and Health Departments share their evaluation results (you can read some highlights of lessons learned in previous blog posts). So we asked what folks observe when they share evaluation results. If you are still wondering about the value of evaluation, the results below might answer that question.  Across the board, our state-level prevention partners are benefiting from evaluation. 

The first graph shows increases in the percent of respondents between 2021 and 2024 that said they experienced benefits related to communication, resources, and media coverage of sexual violence prevention. There was a 30% increase in folks that observed improvements in conversations that surfaced tensions and/or new possibilities. As you can see in the second graph, it was not only conversations that improved, but deep community connections were observed that helped diverse groups of people work together to achieve prevention goals. While this was also occurring in 2021, the 22% growth in 2024 was exciting to see.

Slope graph showing that sharing evaluation findings increased communication, resources, and media coverage for all respondents between 2021 and 2024, with the largest increase being improved communication.


slope grape showing that all outcomes tht help bulid community and connection increased with deepened connections in the community and generated collective efficacy increasing the most 22%

Source: NSVRC National Strengths and Needs Assessment, 2024

Watch for more results coming soon and check out NSVRC’s Evaluation Toolkit to inspire your evaluation approaches.