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How-To Guide: Using the Findings

Using the Findings

Open access to data and information about government-supported programs provides accountability as well as an evidence base to inform public policymaking. Institutions that receive government funding should strive to share their evaluation findings, actively disseminating them as resources allow. The following considerations are important related to using your findings:

  • Share the results. Develop a strategy to communicate your evaluation findings. Consider who needs to know about the results and how may they want to use the information. Whatever type of report you plan to develop, it’s critical to communicate both negative and positive findings. Learning what doesn’t work can be as important as learning what does.

  • Tailor your communications to stakeholder needs. How will your stakeholders use the findings of the evaluation? For instance, program staff may want a more technical explanation than stakeholders outside your institution. What’s the best way to share findings? Some audiences may want a full report while others prefer oral presentations with an executive summary. How will you format the report? Consider preparing multiple formats, including written and online versions.

  • Communicate your findings clearly. Build in time and money to support the communication and dissemination of your findings. Use plain language and enlist the help of trusted colleagues to assess understandability. Discuss the limitations of the methods used and what can be concluded, and present issues that remains uncertain.

  • Highlight findings and recommendations. Like most final reports, your evaluation report will likely include introduction, methods, results and discussion/conclusion sections. However, it’s important that you present any recommendations for action separately from the conclusions, since the costs and benefits of the alternatives must be carefully weighed in light of program resources, funding issues and values.

  • Respond to findings and plan follow-up actions. Consider how to respond to the report. Are there suggested next steps or action items to discuss, and do you need to build consensus to implement them? Determine the long-term and short-term actions you might take and how you will measure the impact of such changes. How can you use the results to improve program planning and implementation? Build monitoring and performance measures into your current program to prepare for future evaluations.

This page last reviewed on December 12, 2012