Planning your evaluation

Laying the right groundwork early as part of your program planning process will maximise the benefit you get from your evaluation, and makes reporting easier when you program wraps up.

ADF graphic, aerial park

Start early for success

Evaluation starts when you’re planning your project. By building evaluation into your action plan, you can streamline your data collection and monitor how things are going from the beginning, making your program better and your life easier when it’s reporting time.

Depending on the specific nature of your program, you’ll be capturing different kinds of data to tell you how you’re doing.

So what kind of data do you need to collect? Your aims and your objectives will tell you.

Aims and objectives

Why are you running this program? Knowing what you want your program to achieve, and being specific about how, is the first step.

  • Your aim is what you want your program to do.
  • Your objectives are how you are going to achieve your aim.

You’ve already written these as part of your grant application. We’ve given an example response below to show how to determine what data needs collecting.

What data to collect?

How will you know if you’re reaching your objectives? The data that will tell you this is the data that you must be collecting. We get into this more below.

With your aims, objectives, and data to collect in mind, you can be working with an action plan that has those three things built into it.

Qualitative versus quantitative data

There are two types of data you’ll be looking at.

  • Quantitative looks at quantity
    • Data based on numbers
  • Qualitative looks at the quality
    • Data based on people’s experiences

Both types of data are important and give insight into different aspects of your program. For example, you might need to know how many people attended your information nights (quantitative) and if the information you provided was appropriate and resonant with the target audience (qualitative).