Suggestions for Determining Your Project's Impacts and Evaluation Revised March 2011
The term "impacts" describes the purpose of your project - that is, what you expect your intended audience to know or do at the conclusion of your project. From 2003 through 2010, REAP CEP used the term "outcomes" rather than "impacts" to describe this ultimate impact of a project.
Before you plan your project, determine the impacts you hope occur as a result of the project - that is, what you expect your intended audience to know or do at the conclusion of your project. With that foundation, you can design your initiative with the impacts and audience in mind, then evaluate whether those impacts were achieved.
Resources to help you determine your project's impacts, intended audiences, and evaluation
Some of the tools use the term "outcomes," though "impacts" is the term REAP CEP is now using to label behavior, knowledge and/or awareness changes. The tools using the word, "outcomes," are relevant and useful, and the REAP CEP Board encourages you to use the tools to assist you with the Impact and Evaluation components of your project.
In addition to the links below, you may email the REAP CEP Monitor and Assistant Susan Salterberg or call her at 319-337-4816 for assistance. The REAP CEP Board encourages you to review this section before calling Susan with your questions.
- The Progress Markers and Chain of Outcomes tools can help you identify what you expect your intended audience to know or do at the conclusion of your project. These exercises may help you express your "impacts" and "intended audience."
Of all the impacts you can imagine from your project,
- Which impacts are most important?
- Which might help you to improve your program, adapt or expand your program into new areas, or attract future funding for your work?
- Do you think your project will meet one or two conservation education needs in Iowa? If so, if you evaluate for those impacts, could you prove you are meeting those needs?
- Which impacts do you feel pretty certain will occur, but you'd really love to know for sure?
- Which impacts could you measure -- using your existing time and experience, and perhaps a little more money?
- Choose at least one impact that you intend to measure. Determine how and when you can measure it.
- In your application under "Audience and Impacts":
- Explain what you expect the intended audience to know or do at the conclusion of your project and why your intended impacts are achievable.
- In your application under "Evaluation":
- Explain how you will show if your desired impacts occurred, and how your evaluation results will be useful to the applicant and/or to the project.
- Identify evaluation tool(s) you plan to use, such as but not limited to surveys, focus groups, pre- and post-tests and/or retrospective pre-/post-questionnaires.
- Include at least one specific question or observation you will be including in your evaluation. Applicants are encouraged to include a copy of their entire evaluation, or draft evaluation, as an attachment to their proposal.
- If you are requesting funding for a project of yours that received past CEP support, explain how your evaluation of that project demonstrates the need for continuation. Also, explain any changes you will make in conducting or evaluating the project this time.
- If the environmental education community has conducted a similar type of project, explain what you have learned that may be applied to your project.
- See an example of how the "Evaluation" section in a grant application might look.
- If you need funding to conduct your evaluation, you may request it within your grant application.
- Please send a brief summary of your results to REAP CEP when your evaluation is complete-with your final report, or later if necessary. Evaluation of your impact(s) may take longer than your project's grant period. For example, follow-up surveys several months after a workshop might not be conducted before your final REAP CEP grant report is due. However, the results are still important to REAP CEP.