I recently spent three fantastic days in Montreal attending the 36th annual Canadian Evaluation Society Conference. The conference theme was, 'Evaluation for the world we want' and featured many informative and educational plenary, panel, and presentation sessions from national and international keynote speakers in the world of evaluation.
The conference got me thinking about how evaluation makes a difference and the reasons organizations and governments should conduct or commission this type of work. The decision to evaluate is usually motivated by things like material investment, high risk, innovative approaches, a high political priority or a desire to understand a program and its impacts. Here are a few of the insights I noted from the Conference on how evaluations can make a real difference:
- They can answer basic questions about a program's effectiveness and can be used to improve programs. Program Managers can find out what works and what doesn't. Knowing what works can preserve valuable resources and time. Knowing what doesn't work can assist program managers to make improvements in these areas by fostering critical thinking.
- Evaluation findings can demonstrate to funders and other stakeholders that a program has value and relevance. Sometimes it's hard to see the benefits until they're laid out in clear, objective detail.
- Conducting an evaluation can be useful in understanding issues in programs, assessing performance and identifying areas where additional support (whether in the form of funding or manpower) may be required
- Evaluations can provide a voice for stakeholders and staff to discuss the challenges they face and can offer potential solutions. Not everyone finds it easy to bring up negatives in a team environment; why not let the evaluation start the conversation?
- They can be a useful planning tool for similar programs and projects in the future
- They can provide evidence to support decision making around public policy, program continuation and improvement, replicating projects and developing budgets
- They provide a means of acquiring and providing information to citizens or groups on outcomes expected from policies and programs. This information is often seen as being more objective when it comes from a third party evaluator.
- Evaluations can add credibility and foster better governance by promoting accountability and transparency among stakeholders
How do I think evaluation can make a difference in our professional lives? I believe evaluations provide knowledge, which can lead to social betterment and act as a call to action. A well-executed evaluation encourages stakeholders to plan and reach for better policies, programs and workplaces. And this undoubtedly affects all of us as both employees and citizens.
On Sunday, June 7th many Islanders got together to take part in the annual Walk For Alzheimer's. Funds raised through this event support the Alzheimer's Society's programs and services for those living with dementia on Prince Edward Island.
This year MRSB accounting technician Marlene Webster set up a refreshment stand near her Charlottetown home to give participants a boost during the Walk. Thanks to Marlene for taking the initiative, and to all participants for making a difference in the lives of those living with dementia and Alzheimer's on PEI.
Contributor: Marlene Webster, accounting technician, MRSB Chartered Accountants
This year marks the 22nd anniversary of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of PEI Dream Cottage Draw. This annual fundraiser supports various programs that help Island children reach their full potential thrugh mentoring and fun. Each year tickets are sold on a newly-built summer cottage, just waiting to be enjoyed by an Island family. And in case the lucky winner has nowhere to put this amazing prize, they also have the choice to receive $65,000 in cash!
Through the month of June the MRSB accounting and bookkeeping teams are doing their part by selling tickets at the cottage Monday to Friday evenings. We've all had a great time chatting with fellow volunteers and telling visitors about the many features of this year's prize cottage.
There is still lots of time to drop by the Dream Cottage at the NEW Canadian Tire parking lot between 1:00am and 7:00pm Monday to Friday, 10:00am to 6:00pm on Saturday or 12:00pm to 6:00pm Sundays. Too far away? Just call 1-877-411-DRAW (3729) to purchase your ticket(s) by phone.
For more information on this year's Dream Cottage Draw, visit the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Prince Edward Island website.