- Determine desired outcomes
- Develop evaluation questions
- Decide upon evaluation methods and data sources
- Develop an evaluation work plan and timeline
Determine Measures and Methods
Once you know your desired outcomes, it is important to establish how you will know you achieved them. Determining the changes you expect to see resulting from your activities, and how you will objectively identify and measure them is a key part of evaluating your impact. A well-structured evaluation helps you collect data that tell a story and clearly communicate impact in a way that demonstrates that your coalition is an investment in the community. Collecting data that show the impact of CCC efforts in increasing healthcare cost savings, saving lives, and improving quality of life can go a long way toward establishing credibility for your coalition efforts and fostering community support for your efforts.
Once you have assembled your stakeholder evaluation team, you should work with them to develop an evaluation plan that includes a description of your desired outcomes, evaluation questions, evaluation methods, and an evaluation work plan with a timeline for activities. The first step in developing your evaluation plan is to identify the desired outcomes resulting from your coalition efforts and decide where and how you can collect data that will tell you if you achieved them. To accomplish this step, consider what outcomes will be of interest to funders, residents, coalition members, and program supporters/participants. Then, determine potential data sources and methods for assessing the extent to which your coalition activities achieved your desired outcomes.
Here are some examples of outcomes your coalition may want to target:
- Increased awareness of cancer preventive resources among community residents and coalition partners;
- Decreased cancer-risk behaviors;
- Increased preventive behaviors;
- Diagnosis of cancer at earlier stages; and
- Prevention of new cases of cancer
Some CCC coalitions also collect data that help them monitor the effectiveness of their coalitions in collaborating, using evidence to enhance the effectiveness of interventions, and impacting systems-level changes that reduce the cancer burden.
The next step is to develop evaluation questions. Evaluation questions keep you focused on the reasons for conducting your evaluation and what you want to know about the activities you are carrying out. As such, evaluation questions provide a good starting point for discussions about how and where you can collect the data you need to tell the story about your coalition’s successes in reducing the cancer burden.
With your evaluation questions in hand, you can use them to decide upon your evaluation methods and the data sources you can use to answer your evaluation questions. You can use many methods to undertake an evaluation, including surveys, programmatic reports, and gathering data from national databases that contain community-level indicators.
Narrowing down your evaluation methods and data sources can be aided by taking an inventory of existing resources and your capacity to collect the data of interest. You might consider answers to questions like, “what relationships do we have with partners that can provide access to the type of data we need?” and “what type of data analysis does our budget support?” For ideas for data sources, it can help to compile and review examples of the ways that other CCC coalitions have collected data to track similar outcomes. Common data sources that CCC coalitions tap into include surveillance systems, cancer registries, and national/state vital statistics systems.
An evaluation work plan can help you maximize your time resources and manpower for carrying out the evaluation. Your work plan should indicate when important tasks for the evaluation will begin and end, including development of surveys, recruitment of evaluation participants, data collection begin-and-end-dates, when data will be analyzed, and who is responsible for carrying out each task.
- What are the desired results of our efforts?
- What data would be of interest to our stakeholders?
- What do we want to learn from our evaluation?
- What assets and resources can we build upon for our evaluation?
- What methods and data sources can help us answer our evaluation questions?
- When is the best time to begin collecting data?
- How will we analyze the data?
- Who is the best person to execute each layer of the work plan?