We fight to improve the lives of people affected by cancer
Manage Your Data
Once you have established a need, developed your full evaluation plan, planned your program, refined it through studies and decided that it is needed, you are ready to implement your program. There are many influences to be aware of when implementing a program or project. Be sure to always keep your target group and established and defined need in mind as you proceed. Your evaluation plan can serve as the framework for program success.
Implementation is the time when all of the comprehensive planning that you have done is put to the test. Evaluation plans are intended to be flexible. You will want to use the data you are collecting along the way to adapt your program to reach your goals. For example, while you may have found that past programs were very successful in reaching cancer survivors after work, your current population may have a tough time participating at that particular time.
The majority of issues you face are likely to be barriers or challenges that you have already anticipated. Hopefully, you have already put some thought into how to address if they were to arise. In the end, there may be changes that need to be made. Using the data you have collected throughout the planning and evaluating processes is crucial to gain support from your organization as well as the constituents you may serve.
- Collecting Data:
- Data collection should be ongoing throughout program planning, development and implementation. This may include collecting names on sign in sheets, handing out surveys or collecting comment cards. This will help you to monitor your progress without being burdened by data collection at the end.
- Keep in mind what success will look like to you and think about how you are seeing the changes you planned for occur.
- Share your data:
As you collect data, think about who will want to learn about the results of your program. There are a number of different stakeholders and audiences who will be interested in your data. Those audiences may include:
- Granting sources (if you have a grant)
In the Understanding Grants section of this toolkit, there is more comprehensive information about reporting to your grantor(s). You will want to ensure that you have mechanisms in place at the onset of your program so that you can complete all of the grant requirements and are able to report in a timely manner. Think about how you will present this information and the amount of time it will take to put this together. For example, the grantor will likely not want you to send a set of completed surveys, but may want to read a summary of the data you found. Additionally, if you are collecting information outside of what is required, check in with the program officer of your grant as they may be interested in reviewing your results.
- Board of Directors
More than likely, your board will want a condensed and summarized report on what you have learned through programmatic evaluation. You can use your results to substantiate needs, such as why a program needs additional funding, should be expanded, replicated or even discontinued. By sharing accurate data, your board will be better able to help you make decisions for the future.
The more comments and qualitative data tying dollars to specific numbers of people served are oftentimes the most compelling pieces of data to donors. You can engage your donors by putting numbers to programs. For example, your data could show that for every $20 raised you are able to educate 10 cancer survivors on how cancer may affect their lives.
In order to improve your program, your staff will need to have access to the results of the work you are doing. Sharing data with staff will help your team to see the results of the great work they are doing. It will also help to make changes for continued successful programs, especially if you have conducted any process evaluation.
- Clients or Participants
Oftentimes data collection takes the biggest toll on your participants. Knowing that the information they provided was collected for a reason and is being used for another purpose can help you in the future. People are more likely to provide data if they know it is being put to good use. For example, if you conduct a survey to assess your current technical support and then change what you provide as a result, let your clients know that their voices were heard. You can do this through an email or your newsletter.
- Your Community, the cancer community and the Media
The Marketing, Communications and Public Relations section of this toolkit provides more information about how to share your successes. Having hard data to tie to your program will help you tell a more compelling story. Peer-reviewed articles, conference presentations, local papers and news and many other sources are excellent outlets for sharing your results, gaining credibility for you program and ensuring that people affected by cancer have access to your program and results.
- Granting sources (if you have a grant)
Think about what needs exist in your community. Define how you are best suited to address one or more of those needs. You should be able to answer the following questions:
- What are the needs in your community?
- What is the need in which you will have the ability to make the greatest impact?
- Is there an evidence base for your program?
- Will your program address the need?
- What are your goals and objectives?
- What will success look like?
- How will you know that you have achieved your goals?