A large part of the job of an evaluator is capacity building, or instructing and involving clients in the activity of evaluation and the use of their subsequent results, even sometimes as an evaluation is taking place. Effective capacity building is a regular topic among evaluators, and there are many methods that may be employed depending on the needs of a particular client. Today I’d like to explore one such method, empowerment evaluation.
, or EE, involves the use of reflection and self-evaluation on the part of clients to help them make decisions and improve and grow their projects even after the evaluation is over.
For one approach to empowerment evaluation, here is a 3-step process:
- Establish the mission. What does the client want the project or their work to be about going forward?
- Take stock of the project. Based on the vision established, where is the client currently in achieving the program’s goals?
- Plan for the future. What benchmarks or strategies can be put into place to get or keep the client on track for the program’s goals?
An evaluator assists clients through empowerment evaluations in many ways. Traditional evaluation tools, such as surveys and interviews, may be used to take initial stock of the client’s current situation as well as to gauge progress later on. The evaluator may act as a coach throughout the process. New technologies may be recommended for introduction into the communication or data collections processes of a client’s organization.
The needs of any client include and many contain a wide variety of factors, issues, and challenges, and as such no exact system can be said to be the right fit for all clients, but the potential of empowerment evaluation is said to be limited only by one’s own imagination.