Reporting evaluation results or communicating evaluation results?
In my view, there is a difference between reporting evaluation results and communicating evaluation results and I would like to start a discussion on these two processes.
Reporting evaluation results involves technical content and is usually limited to communication between the commissioner, the evaluator and the intervention partners. It typically leads to an evaluation report, the objective of which is to provide detailed and specific information for decision-makers, so that they can adjust their intervention. Most commissioners provide guidelines on reporting evaluation results and there are several handbooks on how to report on evaluation.
Communicating evaluation results is aimed at all stakeholders, including beneficiaries and affected people, so the audience is broader. The objective is to inform and explain results to stakeholders. In my opinion, while a quality evaluation report is a must, effective and well-targeted communication of the results is the best way to bring about the desired change. Therefore, a willingness to communicate and to pay special attention to the message, the tools, the channels and the language are needed.
If communities are expected to implement the activities of a development intervention, the results should be communicated through effective channels. In the case of an agricultural intervention, for example, the recommendations of an evaluation should be communicated to institutions as well as farmers, consumers and non-governmental organizations. Communication campaigns should be organized, including radio and television spots, as well as short videos for social media (often the only way to reach rural areas or vulnerable communities), meetings, sketches and so on. This should help spur the desired behavioural change in the targeted audiences. In other words, to have an impact, it is better to have a key performance indicator that involves a communications campaign on evaluation results.
To quote Jennifer Green, "audience participation in evaluation increased the likelihood that the findings of an evaluation would be utilized".
As the time allocated to the evaluation does not usually allow the participation of all stakeholders, these can be reached through a communications campaign on evaluation results. To achieve this, a specific budget needs to be allocated to the communication of evaluation results.
My questions are:
- Who should fund this campaign ‒ the intervention partners or the evaluation office?
- To what extent should evaluators be involved in communicating their findings to stakeholders?
- Should evaluators make recommendations on communicating their results? This means asking evaluators to possess another skill.
What do you think?
 Asian Development Bank. 2008. Maximizing the Use of Evaluation Findings. Manila, The Philippines. https://www.adb.org/sites/default/files/evaluation-document/35880/files/evaluation-findings.pdf