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Evaluation as a research method for social change – why do it?

The Evaluators' Collective / Workshops  / Evaluation as a research method for social change – why do it?

Evaluation as a research method for social change – why do it?

When the United Nations nominated 2015 as the International Year of Evaluation there were celebrations held around the world among evaluators who may be considered a specialist group who are focused on social change. The aim of designating 2015 as the International Year of Evaluation was to advocate for, and promote, evaluation and evidence-based policy making at international, regional, national and local levels.

Why is evaluation becoming more important in the non-profit sector in Australia?

In addition to the International Year of Evaluation’s call to arms, there are some local triggers for change in our environment. You may remember the 2010 Australian Productivity Commission’s report identified that the level of understanding among the wider community of the sector’s role and contribution was poor and deserved attention, a national framework would help, and reform would certainly help. You may also be directly impacted by the Australian Government’s 2013 Enhanced Commonwealth Evaluation Framework where all commonwealth entities are required to include evaluation narratives within their annual portfolios.

Therefore, if your organisation receives any type of government funding or accepts donations from the Australian community, you can expect to come under increasing scrutiny through requirements or requests for more transparent accountability and evidence that your services have impact for social good for your clients. These expectations go beyond your legislative obligations such as the publication of an annual report and audited financial statements. The Australian community is interested in knowing, through evidence, whether your services have a positive impact on social change, and more particularly, especially knowing when there is a negative impact where a service is doing harm.

Lyn Alderman