A clear, concise, brief and yet complete guide on writing mid-term or final evaluation report for a Project of any kind. The format is also available in MS Word format and can be downloaded from here: Evaluation Report Writing Template.
1. Executive Summary
The executive summary of an evaluation report is a shortened version of the full report. It highlights the purpose of the evaluation, key questions, research methodology, evaluation findings, conclusions and recommendations.
This summary provides a condensed version of the different sections – usually one to four pages – and is placed at the start of the report. To write an effective summary, the original document must be fully read with key ideas and important points highlighted. Re-write the highlighted sentences briefly, skipping the unimportant details. The executive summary should contain the following details in brief form:
- Key Findings and Conclusions
- Lessons Learned: Recommendations that can be generalized beyond the specific case to apply to programs globally
- Recommendations: Overall suggestions of how the project/program can be improved based on the findings
2. Introduction to the Project
It is a brief summary of the background of the project, its objectives, planned outputs, outcomes, impacts and stakeholders of the project. Introduction to the project states what the project aims to achieve and what measures are to be taken for this purpose. Here information about the project team, target area and donors can also be provided briefly.
3. Purpose of the Evaluation
It is a statement of why the assessment is needed, how it will benefit the program/project. In this section the evaluator should state the purpose of this practice that may be to assess the degree of achievements of the objectives and results of the project, as outlined in the proposal. The purpose of the evaluation is usually mentioned in the Request for Proposal (RFP) too, so that document can also be used as reference here.
4. Objectives of the Evaluation
Objectives of the evaluation include assessing the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impacts and sustainability of the project and its activities. These should be realistic, in line with the RFP and the given resources (time and money). Objectives of the evaluation can also include what challenges were faced during implementation of the project, important lessons learned and recommendations for the future project implementation.
Sometimes the main purpose of the evaluation can be to focus on the process of implementation rather than on its impact, since this would be minimal if the project has started short time ago or was a short duration project. In this case it would also be important to access the participatory approaches used to identify project beneficiaries and the communities’ role in implementing and monitoring the project.
a. Problems and Needs (Relevance)
- Is the overall project design relevant to the specific needs of the target population?
b. Achievement of Purpose (Effectiveness)
- To what extent does the intended outputs and outcomes level indicators achieved in relation to targets set up in the project document;
- How effective and appropriate is the project approach?
- How well was beneficiaries’ and stakeholders’ (including government) participation incorporated in the project cycle?
- What was the quality of the M&E system?
c. Sound management and value for money (Efficiency)
- How far funding, staff, time and other resources contributing to or hindering the achievement of the results. Is ‘Value for money’ achieving?
d. Achievement of wider effects (Impact)
- Will the project activities be helpful in impacting the lives of the people? If the project is a short-term, care should be taken about committing for long term impacts. What difference is expected in the lives of those targeted in the project as compare the project baseline initial bench marks?
- Who were the direct and indirect/wider beneficiaries of the project?
e. Likely continuation of achieved results (Sustainability)
- What were the prospects for the benefits of the project being sustained after the funding will be over?
- How was the exit strategy defined, and how this will be managed at the end of the funding period?
The evaluator should make use of this section to define what methods of research (Quantitative / qualitative) did he/she used, what documents/reports did he/she study, how was the sampling done and how did he/she arranged for knowing about the community’s feedback on the project. In short, the evaluator should mention all of the sources of data collection, sampling techniques used, methods of data collection (e.g. surveys, FGDs, key informant interviews, staff debriefing), data analysis and documentation. Here he/she can also select or finalize the key areas of investigation like:
- Impact on beneficiaries and the community
- Community participation
- Selection and processing of beneficiaries
- Project management and overall implementation process
It would also be necessary to include the limitations of the methodology, if any.
6. Evaluation Findings
Here the evaluator can discuss whether the project has adequate number of qualified and experienced staff and whether they are performing their duties to the required performance level or not. Details about individual staff members involved in the project can be included either as part of this section or in the appendix, depending on the length and importance of this information.
The evaluator should answer at least the following questions with regards to the project being evaluated:
- What activities were planned/implemented and how relevant the activities are in the context of what is to be achieved in the outcomes/impact
- Can it really bring lasting changes in the community?
- Are the activities culturally relevant?
- What are the shortcomings in the relevance of the planned activities in the proposal?
- To what extent the objectives of the project are still valid etc.
- What is the degree of effectiveness of the activities on the lives of the people?
- To what extent were the objectives achieved
- Are people engaging and taking ownership of the project?
- What were the challenging factors?
Efficiency of the project should be assessed against its costs, human resources and time. Answers to following questions should be found out:
- Are the outputs completed in specified time and allocated budget?
- Is the Burn rate of the project OK?
- Were activities cost efficient?
- Were objectives achieved on time?
- What alternatives were available and Was the best of the alternatives was chosen in implementing activities?
This involves evaluation of all the social, economic and environmental changes, direct or indirect, intended or unintended, produced by the project. An impact evaluation assesses changes in the well-being of individuals, households, communities or firms that can be attributed to a particular project, program or policy. The main impact evaluation question is what would have happened to the beneficiaries if they had not received the program. The evaluator can gauge the number of beneficiaries and see what real difference has the project or its activities made in the lives of the people?
Impact evaluation provides feedback to help improve the design of programs and policies. In addition to providing for improved accountability, impact evaluations are a tool for dynamic learning, allowing policymakers to improve ongoing programs and ultimately better allocate funds across programs. Information generated by impact evaluations informs decisions on whether to expand, modify, or eliminate a particular policy or program and can be used in prioritizing public actions.
Sustainability or exit strategy of a project is a plan describing how the program will continue to achieve its goal after the project funding has exhausted. The community should be the main stakeholder in planning an exit strategy, as they are the most expert on their communities. Exit Strategies, when planned and implemented correctly, can be a springboard for sustainable development.
The evaluator should answer the following questions:
- Will the project benefits continue after completion of the project?
- Is there an exit strategy? Is it being implemented?
- How effective is the exit strategy?
- Will the project be sustainable through this strategy? What are the challenges in carrying out the exit strategy?
7. Strengths of the Project/Organization
The evaluator should use this section to portray the strengths of the organization like staff commitment, staff efficiency, organizational links and strong local presence, level of government support, availability of resources (field office, equipment etc.), successful activities of project implementation etc.
8. Areas of Improvement
Equipping field office, staff capacity building, staff turnover, increasing community involvement, improvement in checks and balances system (M&E), planning and implementation, sustainability strategy (exit strategy), security issues, linkages between outputs, outcomes and impact.
Recommendations/solutions. Evaluations often make recommendations about how a program can be improved, how the risk of program failure can be reduced or whether a program should continue. However, the inclusion of recommendations is based upon the provided terms of reference for the evaluation. These should be formed on the basis of the evaluation findings and processes which involve all the stakeholders.