On this page:
You can find a final evaluation report template and dissemination/communication plan template on the resources and templates page.
How will you share and with whom?
As noted earlier, evaluations are most effective when they are designed to meet the needs of primary users. Look at your stakeholder map and refresh your memory regarding who the key stakeholders are for your evaluation.
It’s very likely that your primary stakeholders will want some kind of full or final report of your evaluation (your primary product). Once you have a full report, it is much easier to craft other secondary products for both the primary and secondary stakeholders – for example a PowerPoint presentation (to use in workshops or seminars), or a newsletter article (for distribution to a network). These secondary products draw on the primary product for their information.
It is also important to share some form of product with participants in the interests of reciprocity(liv). Reciprocity is the principle that both parties (researchers/evaluators and participants) should contribute something the other needs/desires – and this may extend beyond reporting. But, at a minimum, because participants are contributing their information and data to an evaluation, it is important that the outcome/product/impact of this contribution is communicated back. (We discuss the importance of communicating with participants later in this section).
Final evaluation report
A final report brings together the story of your evaluation in one place. It explains to the reader:
- the context and purpose of the evaluation
- the way in which you intend to measure change
- your data collection story
- what you found, and
- what meaning you have made from your data. Meaning, in your evaluation, is made by using the data to answer your evaluation questions.
It is important to plan and structure the report before you begin writing. List out the key headings and sections. This will assist you to think about the types of information that might go in each part. If you are providing your report to a funding body, it’s a good idea to share your proposed structure with that body. Funders or commissioners of evaluation may have a view about structure or content they would like to see (lv).
No matter how fabulous your report, there are some readers who may not have time to read the whole thing. These readers will benefit from a short (e.g., one to two page) executive summary at the beginning of the report. An executive summary is effectively a mini version of the report (which can also orient and prepare readers who intend to read the full report).
In terms of structure, most final evaluation reports include at least the following sections(lvi):
- executive summary
- introduction that contains background and/or context to the project itself, and the evaluation
- methodology and data collection methods
- findings (often grouped in themes
- conclusions/insights – your ‘evaluative’ view (the ‘value’ part of ‘evaluation’)
For those who do not have a reporting template from a funder, please feel free to access the reporting template in this Toolkit.
Tip: Enrich your writing with quotations
If you have gathered qualitative data, you can draw on de-identified quotations from this to enrich your report. Quotations help illustrate different points you make in your evaluation report. They also send a message to readers that you have engaged deeply with the data. Just make sure you have met ethical standards regarding consent before you record focus groups and interviews.
- Save the Children’s (2012) Evaluation Handbook provides some great advice on structuring a report and how to feed in different evaluation components.
- The Australian Institute of Family Studies’ Evidence and Evaluation Support Practice Guide provides helpful advice on structuring reports and disseminating findings.
Accessibility and clarity
A key consideration in report writing is how you present your information. Most reports include lots of writing and numerical tables to communicate key message. However, some readers can find it difficult to engage with reports that are text heavy. Consider alternative or additional ways of communicating evaluation results to engage readers. It is important to know the end user’s expectations and to find ways of presenting your findings that best suit their needs.
Some options for presenting your data could include the use of tables, charts, diagrams and quotes. Data visualisation is the presentation of data and information in any sort of imagery (e.g., charts, pictures, or tables) to support exploration or examination by the reader(lvii). These visuals draw greater attention to patterns, trends or key numbers. Data visualisation can be a great way to tell a story and present evidence, and is well worth exploring.
- Better Evaluation offers some useful advice about visualising data in the evaluation context.
- See also a great chapter by Azzan, Evergreen, Germuth & Kistler (2013) on Data Visualisation in Evaluation [PDF].
Progress or interim reports
In addition to a final evaluation report, you might want or need to provide progress reports either to internal or external stakeholders. When and how to conduct progress reports will be guided by what was set in your monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) framework as well as any funding requirements for your project. Progress reports draw on the data you have been collecting against your measures of success.
A progress report typically includes some descriptive detail from your monitoring activities and outputs. It often reflects on implementation progress and may also include some reflections based on early evidence of outcomes. Your funding program may have its own progress reporting template.
Progress reporting can occur weekly, monthly, quarterly, biannually, or annually (based on the length and scale of your project).
Like a final evaluation report, progress reports should be structured based on the needs and expectations of your key stakeholders. Common components of progress reports include:
- activities delivered and outputs created
- reflections on process and implementation
- reflections on any early progress against indicators of outcomes success
- lessons learnt and challenges.
As discussed earlier, it’s important to learn from the data gathered during monitoring and evaluation. Applying findings and learnings from your monitoring and evaluation is the best way to maximise the hard work you have invested in the evaluation process. If the purpose of your project is to bring about change, then adjusting aspects of your project based on what you learn is critical.
There are many ways that findings from an evaluation can be applied to contribute to learning and continuous improvement across the primary prevention sector. They might include using your findings to inform(lviii):
- strategic planning, such as planning for wider primary prevention programming across the sector
- organisational planning, including for your own team or wider organisation
- advocacy to influence decision-making around primary prevention resourcing
- a stronger evidence base for primary prevention practice. Your work might contribute to changes outside your organisation – for example, findings from your project might inform new approaches in new settings, or influence engagement with new cohorts.
Planning your communications approach
Communicating your findings with relevant stakeholders is important for several reasons.
Funders or governance bodies want to know that their contributions have made a difference, that there has been rigour around your work, and that the purpose of the funding has been acquitted.
Participants want to know how their contributions have been used and that their contributions have made a difference. It is important that evaluation processes illustrate respect for participants by recognising them as partners in data production, and sharing with them outcomes from their contributions.
Practitioners will be interested in developments in their field, and ways in which they can improve their own practice and impact. Practitioners are also keen on any evidence that supports the importance of their work for internal or external purposes.
Wider audiences whose interest or attention you want to gain need easy to access information that illustrates the message you are trying to share or the call to action you are making.
Advocates want to see the evidence supporting insights and recommendations from your work, so they can easily draw on these to make arguments for increased funding or other outcomes.
A formal evaluation report may be too detailed for certain audiences and there may be a need to summarise the whole report into a shorter document. Creating targeted messages can help with generating interest and providing a compelling and relevant end product(lix).
Use your knowledge of the sector to find out which of your findings are most relevant to whom and turn them into key messages for these different audiences.
Tip – Get creative with your evaluation products
Explore different ways to present your findings – this could be through pictures, video, graphs, quotes, and case studies. Use social or online media (such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter) to maximise reach.
Sharing your findings
A dissemination and/or a communication plan provides you with a strategy for communicating your key findings and messaging(lx). A dissemination plan will help you identify audiences with an interest in your findings, the message you want to share, the type of report or finding you are sharing, how you will do this and when.
Identify the channels or media that might be relevant for sharing your findings with different audiences. The following dissemination table(lxi) links suggested communication channels with products.
Communication channels and products
|Newsletter, industry journal||Link to final report on organisational website
Write an article that summarises findings and/or includes data visualisation
|Academic journal||Write an article that focuses on a topic or theme of interest|
|Social media||Link to final report
Link to specially produced summaries
Explainer on a particular theme or outcome
|Organisational homepage/website||Include link on your website to final report
Link to specially produced summaries and short articles
|Conferences, webinars, workshops||Present PowerPoint
Facilitate discussion workshop
Share link to report or summaries
|Stakeholder meeting opportunities (e.g., board meetings, participant network meetings, other externally driven meeting bodies)||Present PowerPoint
Share link to report or summaries
|Public events (e.g., stall at a community market, stall at a special event)||Printed copies of summary sheets|
This table builds on suggestions from VicHealth (2015) Evaluating Victorian Projects for the Primary Prevention of Violence against Women: A concise guide, and AIFS (2022) Dissemination of Evaluation Findings.
Tip – Be inclusive
Are your primary and secondary users from linguistically diverse communities? If so, you may need to produce messages, summary reports and/or key findings briefs in the language of your intended users to maximise reach, and to ensure your communication is effective.
Don’t forget ...
- Keep your key audience and your evaluation purpose in mind as you are writing your report.
- Data visualisation is a great way to present and share information.
- Always support your findings with evidence.
- Develop a summary report or brief of the main report to be shared.
- Don’t be shy about sharing key messages about your findings or promoting your successes through your media channels.
- What you do with your findings can be powerful! Don’t forget to use them to strengthen learning for your counterparts and partners across the sector.
- VicHealth’s resource Evaluating Victorian Projects for the Primary Prevention of Violence against Women: A concise guide provides a useful dissemination worksheet (Tool 9).
- The UN Development Fund for Women Evaluation Unit (2009) Guidance Note on Developing an Evaluation Dissemination Strategy [PDF] provides helpful advice from report writing to dissemination.
- Also refer to Re-shaping Attitudes: A toolkit for using the NCAS in the primary prevention of violence against women.
(liv) For articles on this topic see Tubaro, P. (2019) Whose results are these anyway? Reciprocity and the ethics of “giving back” after social network research. In Social Networks, 67, pp 65-73. Accessed on 7/7/22. Available at: [https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S037887331930070X] and Trainor, A., & Bouchard, K. (2013). Exploring and developing reciprocity in research design. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 26. Accessed on 7/7/22. Available at: [https://doi.org/10.1080/09518398.2012.724467]
(lv) p.13, Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (2015) Evaluating Victorian projects for the primary prevention of violence against women: a concise guide. Victorian Health Promotion Foundation.
(lvi) p. 58, Centre for Evaluation and Research Evidence (2021) Monitoring and Evaluation Guide. State Government of Victoria. Victoria and Australian Institute of Family Studies (2022) Dissemination of Evaluation Findings. Accessed 5/7/22. [Available at: https://aifs.gov.au/resources/practice-guides/dissemination-evaluation-findings]
(lvii) Azzam, T., Evergreen, S., Germuth, A. A., & Kistler, S. J. (2013). Data visualization and evaluation. In T. Azzam & S. Evergreen (Eds.), Data visualization, part 1. New Directions for Evaluation, (139) 7–32. Accessed on 7/7/22. Available at: [https://dmlcommons.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/data_visualization_evaluation.pdf]
(lviii) Some examples drawn from p.57, Centre for Evaluation and Research Evidence (2021) Monitoring and Evaluation Guide. State Government of Victoria, Victoria.
(lix) p. 14, Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (2015) Evaluating Victorian projects for the primary prevention of violence against women: a concise guide. Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, Melbourne and United Nations Development Fund for Women Evaluation Unit (2009) Guidance Note on Developing an Evaluation Dissemination Strategy. Accessed on 7/7/22. Available at: [https://www.endvawnow.org/uploads/browser/files/UNIFEM_guidance%20note_evaluation_Dissemination.pdf]
(lx) p. 14, Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (2015) Evaluating Victorian projects for the primary prevention of violence against women: a concise guide. Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, Melbourne and United Nations Development Fund for Women Evaluation Unit (2009) Guidance Note on Developing an Evaluation Dissemination Strategy. Accessed on 7/7/22. Available at: [https://www.endvawnow.org/uploads/browser/files/UNIFEM_guidance%20note_evaluation_Dissemination.pdf]
(lxi) This table draws on several sources, including p. 14, Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (2015) Evaluating Victorian projects for the primary prevention of violence against women: a concise guide. Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, Melbourne and Australian Institute of Family Studies (2022) Dissemination of Evaluation Findings. Accessed 5/7/22. [Available at: https://aifs.gov.au/resources/practice-guides/dissemination-evaluation-findings].