D. Does it hold any water? – SIMULATION OF EVALUATORS

Coming to this point, you definitely experience a feeling of satisfaction and content with the hard work and effort you invested along with your partners and team members. However, there is a high risk that you have so much learned the ropes of your project, that you stopped being objective and honest about its effectiveness. Sometimes it happens to forget that when up to your neck in alligators, the mission was to drain the swamp! Is there possibly any way to avoid getting disappointed by the evaluator’s opinion in the long term? Well…there is!

It is now time to step back a little from your passion to succeed and try to step into the shoes of your future evaluator – the person who is to assess your project proposal and decide on its fate. There is a wide range of ways to go through this process – one of which is hiring a professional consultant, but…do you really have the resources for it? You and your partners are already a strong group, aiming to the same goal: the proposals acceptance! What you now need to do is to go through your proposal again and try to assess it through the eyes of your evaluator.

The best tool to use is your donor’s already set scoring method! Try to apply it to your proposal’s chapters, see what are your weak or strong points and make the necessary improvements. If there is no such scoring guide, then try to assess your proposal by exploring the three most significant factors of your project: PROCESS, IMPACT and OUTCOME.

Before finding yourself lost in space, try to apply the five evaluation criteria that will indicate the level of your proposal’s success:

  1. Relevance – how relevant is your proposal to the donor’s goals?
  2. Efficiency – how well does it serve the donor’s priorities?
  3. Effectiveness – how likely is it to bring the desired results?
  4. Impact – to what extent is it going to influence the groups involved?
  5. Sustainability – how long do you expect the results to last and how are you going to preserve them?

Of course these are considered to be the headlines of your process – let’s call it the starting point, and it mainly refers to the content you have shared in your application. Definitely there is a number of other questions that complete the puzzle:

  1. Do you properly respond to the application form’s requests?
  2. Are you clear and precise in your responses?
  3. Do you offer all the needed details to explain your plans?
  4. Does it meet the requirements, priorities and goals of your donor?

…and the list goes on.

In order to do the task correctly, try to follow this simple process:

  • STEP 1: split your team in groups that are mixed (preferably members from different partner organizations).
  • STEP 2: divide the application form in sections, according to the content (ex. description, goals and objectives, activities, budget, results and outcomes, follow up etc.).
  • STEP 3: assign each section to one group (preferably to a group that has not been massively involved in this wection’s development).
  • STEP 4: ask the groups to assess their sections according to the criteria you have set and share feedback for improvement (it would be helpful if you decide on the scoring method beforehand as a group, in case it is not provided by the donor).
  • STEP 5: gather again as a team, go through the scores and feedback and make the necessary improvements to your application.

This process can be rather demanding and challenging and it definitely needs a lot of strength and objectivity.

Integrating self-evaluation in the development and management of a project requires certain attitudes and skills, essentially
· a commitment to change and development;
· a willingness to be open and self-critical;
· a determination to achieve practical results;
· an understanding of the value of teamwork;
· a competence in self evaluation.
Source: European Commission – Guide to Project Self-Evaluation for Project Promoters

So..be strong and go for it!