Development Works Changemakers (DWC) is dedicated to creating a community of global changemakers that implement innovative development solutions that address global socio-economic challenges to transform communities. Evaluation is a key part of this process.
Our expert team includes experienced evaluators who love their job. Here are six powerful highlights of working in evaluation, as shared by team members Susannah, Fia, and Jenna.
1. Working with specialists in a variety of sectors
One of the key aspects is being able to apply our technical evaluation expertise and work across various sectors as we collaborate with sector specialists. This makes for a very enriching experience. You’re always dealing with the new subject matter and looking for solutions that work across various areas and sectors.
It’s empowering to be able to work with economists, sector specialists, and others in the development sector who all have a common goal of looking for solutions that work and improve programming. Including working with multi-disciplinary teams and learning from them, picking up useful skills and knowledge.
2. Constant learning and sharing of knowledge
With evaluation, you’re generally working with a variety of people such as stakeholders, beneficiaries, groups of people, etc. It’s wonderful to have that human interaction and be able to work with people, understand their point of view and position. Being able to work with various people from diverse backgrounds is very rewarding, always trying to understand from their points of view.
There is also the opportunity to pick up new skills and methods, then apply them. Project-based work gives you a clean slate for each project, providing a chance to implement new suitable and relevant methods. The evaluation space is one of constant learning.
3. Unique daily challenges and growth
The variety of the role of the evaluator involves working with a wide range of topics and sectors. Every evaluation is different, so this makes it very interesting and puts you in touch with a different range of stakeholders and programs. In the process, you learn a lot about the development sector through your work, growing in your skills with each project.
This also means that you are constantly being challenged as there is no routine. Each project needs continuous adaptation and learning.
4. Directly engage with people
The opportunity to engage directly with people and understand development issues better, and understand the lives of people better is a highlight. For example, working with people during interviews. It is an immense privilege to be able to learn about the situations of people in different contexts, gaining a broader understanding of the diversity of humanity. This is possibly the most fascinating part.
During this engagement with people during interviews, as a researcher and evaluator, you also gain personally from the interview. You cannot do research and evaluation and not be touched or influenced by the lives of others.
5. Telling a story through data
There’s a joy that comes from using analytics and data as evidence for making decisions. Using data that’s collected by the program itself, or data collected through the process, to inform decision making is often more effective than relying on what other people have said in the past.
This is so important – following what the evidence is saying and tailor-making decisions and programmatic strategies according to what the data depicts. In a time like now, this is a really important direction to be moving into – data leading the way in decision making. Both qualitative and quantitative analytics can tell a story to inform decision making.
6. Being a Strategic Changemaker
Being an evaluator gives you an opportunity to make a contribution to the development sector as you’re making recommendations in evaluations for projects, programs, and policies.
In this way, you’re able to support change and improvement. It’s not just about getting the report out, but rather improving projects and programs so that the finances and funding set aside for development can be spent more efficiently and on the type of interventions that will have the desired results. These all contribute to shaping real and positive change.
Having the opportunity to help organizations and staff members improve their programming from a very strategic level is important. Whether that be from an independent evaluation and providing recommendations about what you, as an objective observer, see, or suggestions that you’ve gathered from people you’ve spoken to. All feedback helps shape positive change.
It’s inspiring and motivating to be involved at such a strategic level engaging with diverse stakeholders, including when you’re speaking to higher-level program directors and gaining their feedback on learnings to be incorporated into the program for future planning. Insights from various stakeholders are all valuable to shape, focus, and prioritise.
The inputs of staff members who may be new to the research and evaluation process are also valuable. We appreciate the chance to help build capacity and support them with setting up M&E frameworks and helping programme staff and decision-makers build a good practice of regularly and methodically collecting and using data for decision making.
For some, it can be seen as an additional responsibility and burden but when it’s positioned in a way that’s for learning and they see the progress towards targets, then it can be very rewarding.