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Working with non-government organisations: dropping the defences and building bridges

Guenther, John Ch., Arnott, Allan R., Bartjen-Westermann, Christa, Haynes, Leanna, Howard, Rosalie, Kalender, Larry and Watkinson, Jessica (2010). Working with non-government organisations: dropping the defences and building bridges. In: AES International Conference 2010, Wellington, New Zealand, 30 August - 3 September 2010.

Document type: Conference Paper
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IRMA ID 81704288xPUB393
Author Guenther, John Ch.
Arnott, Allan R.
Bartjen-Westermann, Christa
Haynes, Leanna
Howard, Rosalie
Kalender, Larry
Watkinson, Jessica
Title Working with non-government organisations: dropping the defences and building bridges
Conference Name AES International Conference 2010
Conference Location Wellington, New Zealand
Conference Dates 30 August - 3 September 2010
Conference Publication Title Proceedings from the AES International Conference 2010
Place of Publication Australia
Publisher Australasian Evaluation Society
Publication Year 2010
Start Page 1
End Page 13
Total Pages 13
HERDC Category E2 - Conference Publication - Full written paper, non refereed proceedings (internal)
Abstract The purpose of this paper is to reflect on the professional relationship between evaluators and their clients—in this case a number of non-government organisations (NGOs) that contribute to better NGO engagement in the evaluation process.

Evaluations are often imposed on NGOs by program funders for accountability, impact assessment, practice improvement or policy development purposes. Regardless of the purpose the imposition of evaluation is sometimes re sented by program managers who may see evaluation as an unnecessary intrusion on their time, and something which the funder may require but will not benefit them or the people they are working with. For those without previous experience, the view of what evaluation is and does may be tainted by previous negative experiences of reports and assessments that are required for other purposes (such as financial acquittal or performance appraisal).

For the uninitiated program manager, the evaluator’s first task may well be to allay those fears. The objections encounter ed range from: ‘you can’t measure what we do’; ‘we haven’t been funded to do evaluation’; ‘what would you know about this program anyway—we are the experts’; to ‘our business is looking after clients—where does evaluation fit into that?’. These objections—and more—have been encountered by two of the authors of this paper, (the ‘evaluators’) who for a number of years have evaluated programs designed to improveoutcomes for communities, families and children.

In their first meetings with program managers the evaluators encountered varying levels of support for evaluation. While all agreed that evaluation was important some were more engaged in the process than others. The evaluato rs have noted that there were potentially arange of factors that appeared to influence the level of program manager engagement in the evaluation process, including the methodology and the approach taken by the evaluators. However, the utility of evaluation outputs, such as reports that include a critique of findings and recommendations, is greater when program managers embrace the evaluation process.

Given this observation, the evaluators asked themselves what the keys to successful engagement were.. Rather than speculate further about this themselves the evaluators decided to put their beliefs to the test and ask five program managers
what the turning point in their acceptance of evaluation was and why they became more supportive of evaluation. Their voices are included in this paper as co-authors with the evaluators. The five program managers represented here are all keen advocat es of participatory approaches to evaluation.
The paper offers perspectives from evaluators and program managers in order to suggest ways that evaluators can work more effectively with program managers—building bridges—so that evaluations can have greater effect in terms of policy and practice.
Description for Link Link to AES homepage
Link to published version
URL http://www.aes.asn.au/
http://www.aes.asn.au/professional-learning/international-conference/previous-conferences/65-2010-aes-international-conference-wellington-presentations.html


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Created: Fri, 17 Jan 2014, 00:10:32 CST