Developmental evaluation

What is it?

  1. Developmental evaluation is a facilitated, high involvement process to help organisations and groups get robust evidence of the effectiveness and value of their policy, programme, or funding initiative. 
  2. Research tools are used to document and share lessons learned, using a user-friendly approach that has high ‘face validity’ (Davidson, 2007).
  3. Our approach is designed to build an ongoing evaluation capability within those organisations that use our services.

Where did it come from?

  1. WEB Research developed the method by drawing on:
    • Insights and tools from our research experience on how adults learn and change their practices at work; The work of international colleagues, particularly at the University of Helsinki in Finland (Engestrom, 1996);
    • Our case study-based approach to evaluation developed jointly with the Department of Labour between 1996-2002 (see Sankar and Hill, 2002);
    • Our work as researchers with Charitable Trusts and NGOs in New Zealand; and
    • The expertise of evaluation experts such as New Zealander Jane Davidson (2007).
  2. Integral to the method is a close partnership between the organisation commissioning the evaluation, the research agency (WEB), and those whose projects and activities are being evaluated.

Who uses it?

NZ Charitable Trusts and NGOs in funding relationships

  1. Developmental Evaluation enables a Charitable Trust or NGO to develop a partnership relationship with funded service providers in a short, medium or long-term relationship.  The method allows the funder to:
    • Evaluate the process and outcomes of the service provided;
    • Reflect upon and re-design (with the active participation of the service provider) monitoring and reporting tools, and processes for engagement between the funder and provider; and
    • Change the behaviour or services of each other to better secure the agreed outcomes.
  2. Traditionally funders let contracts to organisations that carry out research or intervention programmes for people in a particular community sector. In these cases, the connection between the funder and the people it seeks to assist is mediated by the contracting organisation.
  3. This arrangement no longer suits some funders.  They want to create the possibility of all parties - the commissioning and commissioned organisations and the people they intend to benefit - collectively monitoring, reviewing and re-designing interventions on a rolling basis.
  4. This is a sophisticated approach and requires a medium to long-term high trust relationship between the parties. A pure contracting model is not possible; the precise form, tools and behaviours of the new relationship have to be created by the parties as they undertake their respective roles and tasks.

Evaluation research with charitable trusts and NGOs

A five-year evaluation project for the Wayne Francis Charitable Trust (2007-2012). Carried out in collaboration with Dr Jane Higgins. The project evaluates how well the Trust’s process of funding projects works, and how funded organisations view and experience the Trust. The work also includes outcome evaluations of funded organisations.

An Evaluation of the Salvation Army Employment Plus (2008). This was an evaluation of that part of the Salvation Army that operates as a Private Training Establishment.