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November 14, 2014 | Practice Guidance, Report

Cultivating Evaluation Capacity: A Guide for Programs Addressing Sexual and Domestic Violence


Vera Institute of Justice


Nancy Smith, Charity Hope


Alice Chasan

Publication Date:


Because of evaluation’s many benefits, policymakers, funders, and practitioners are calling for domestic and sexual violence programs to evaluate their work. Nevertheless, organizations often cannot find the necessary support—whether in the form of funding, training, or technical assistance—to help prepare them for this task. In response to this support gap, a variety of social scientists and practitioners have published self-help resources to guide an organization through the steps of creating, designing, and implementing an evaluation. But research has shown that an organization needs to have a number of elements in place before it can begin a meaningful evaluation. This guide is designed to help your organization assess its readiness and capacity to take on evaluation activities, with the ultimate goal of integrating sustainable evaluation efforts into your operations.

Section I describes the key factors within your organization that affect its readiness to conduct evaluation activities and provides a tool and process designed to help you better understand and assess your evaluation capacity. Section II provides practical information, tips, and resources on topics essential to enhancing your organization’s evaluation capacity, including creating a culture of evaluation; how to ensure that your evaluation is aligned with your program goals; budgeting for evaluation; how to staff your evaluation team; what’s involved in working with an external evaluator; and considerations for defining and measuring success. Section III lists resources for additional information and training on evaluation, as well as the guide’s bibliography.