Planning to Evaluate

Planning to evaluate is the natural conclusion of the planning phases. It confirms the goals of the project and sets the parameters by which organizers will measure their success.  

Creating a plan to evaluate takes little time because the ingredients – the numerical targets and the goals of the organization – are already there. Moreover, the pay-off is worth it. A clear evaluation plan:

That last one is important because the organizational structure of a community group’s electoral project is typically more hierarchical than what staff may be used to. In the heat of election work, decisions cannot always be made democratically. As he explains in the video, Robby Rodriguez has found that SWOP’s projects run more smoothly if leadership and organizers are on the same page about the decision-making processes and opportunities for evaluation from the start.

We’ve provided a simple evaluation planning worksheet (PDF – 68 KB) to help you organize your qualitative targets, for both voter contacts and volunteer requirements, and track progress. It has places to write in your “best-case-scenario” goals and minimum goals for three points before the election and Election Day itself.

Components of an evaluation plan

When: Create a schedule of evaluations. We suggest that you do three periodic evaluations, the first when the election is a month away, the second when it’s two weeks away, and the third on the Friday before the election (the eve of get-out-the-vote weekend). As for post-electoral evaluation, you might do two or more, depending on the scope of the project and the number of people involved in the evaluation process.

What: Determine the quantitative and qualitative goals for each periodic evaluation and for the project as a whole. To keep things grounded, establish the minimum numeric targets that organizers would still consider a success.

Who: Decide which staff, organizers and volunteers will participate in each evaluation. You probably will only need to include lead organizers and staff in the first two periodic evaluations but you may want to invite your core volunteers to the last one to really rev everyone up for the final push. Depending on the scale of your work and your organizational culture, you may want to do post-electoral evaluations with staff alone, staff and membership together, or as an open meeting to which you invite your members, staff, volunteers who are potential members and new allies. Ideally, you might do all of these things.

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Robby Rodriguez says that SWOP's evaluation process allows people to dispute decisions after the election

Robby Rodriguez: an evaluation process prevents disruptive disagreements

A simple evaluation planning worksheet

A simple evaluation planning worksheet will help you to define your goals and track your progress (PDF – 68 KB)