Program Evaluation for the Homelessness Sector

Sharing the Findings

This lesson explains ways to share your findings with various audiences that go beyond writing a formal report.

When the report has been finalized, you will want to consider a dissemination strategy. If the needs assessment was conducted with several community partners, you may want to present the findings on behalf of the group (e.g. The Coalition on Youth Homelessness). You will no doubt think about writing up a report, but it's a good idea to consider complementary strategies. For example, you can develop a layered strategy that includes social media along with presentations to the community. Regardless of the strategy you choose, you will want to ensure that your findings will reach your intended audience for the greatest impact (Paloma-Wellesley, 2010; 98-100).

Clients

Clients have an interest in and a right to know the results. Sharing the findings informs clients about whether or not the program is meeting or exceeding program outcomes and whether or not there may be some changes in order to improve services to all clients. Sharing of information is an opportunity to build client-staff relationships and demonstrate trust. Clients have a chance to ask questions and make suggestions, and play a role in developing solutions.

Program Staff

Program staff members, like clients, have the right to know, firsthand, whether or not the program is meeting or exceeding expectations. Acknowledging and celebrating successful aspects of the program with staff can be a validating and empowering experience. Additionally, staff play a significant role in developing solutions if areas for improvement have been identified. Other staff in the organization can also benefit by learning about the process, including challenges and triumphs.

Organizations Doing Similar Work

Share your results with other organizations to contribute to a culture of openness and inter-agency sharing and trust. All programs in the non-profit sector are working to find effective ways to bring about positive social change for their clients. Sharing results may help to identify trends and insights which will be useful for policy makers and planners.

What Do You Think?

If you are trying to improve the uptake of your program evaluation results, you may find it is worth investing time to create visually appealing reports. This article from the organization Better Evaluation describes some techniques for creating appealing infographics.

Infographics are visual representations of your data and findings. Infographics have become popular because they are generally visually appealing, but they also make your findings easy to read and understand. Here are some good examples of infographics.

Infographics

This infographic depicts the impact of Nightstop, an intervention for youth experiencing homelessness in the UK.

Here is an infographic that accompanies the EPIC pilot program evaluation.

Finally, here is an elaborate example showing social media, technology and street-involved youth in BC.

Social Media

Consider ways to extend the reach of your dissemination strategy with social media. For each post, choose one key finding to share. Create your content – make sure to include eye-catching visuals – and publish. Be strategic about the platforms you choose and how you use them.

Social media platforms to share evaluation results

Fig. What to share on various social media platforms. 

Sharing outcomes data with clients

Outcomes measurement should focus on the experience of the client or participant more than the logistics of how the program is delivered. This shift signals a broader change of focus to what is being achieved for clients. The table below shows how the differences in service focused and client focused programs.

Service Focused Client Focused
⇒   focus on service deliverer

⇒   focus on how you deliver service

⇒   focus on quality of services

⇒   emphasis on improving quality

⇒   measure amount of what you do

⇒   evidence of activities (weak case with funders)

⇒   the task is never finished (demotivating for staff)

⇒   service specified in terms of what is offered
⇒   focus on client

⇒   focus on how client changes

⇒   focus on effectiveness of services

⇒   emphasis on improving effectiveness

⇒   measure benefit of what you do

⇒   evidence of results (strong case with funders)

⇒   clients achieve goals (motivating for staff and clients)

⇒   service specified in terms of client need and intended outcome
 

Create an outcomes orientation within the organization 

Without this shift of focus, the outcomes tool may be just another form that is filled in mechanically because it is required. If implemented in this mechanistic way the many potential benefits of using an outcomes tool (described in sections 1.2 and 2.1) will not be realised. (MacKeith, 2010)

Learn more about Participatory evaluation: