About This Series
Publication Date: January 2010
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What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages?

Use your answers from exhibit 1 (see "Should I Hire a Local Evaluator?") to help you decide whether hiring a local evaluator is in the best interest of your program. This section assists you in the decisionmaking process by outlining the advantages, as well as the potential challenges, of hiring a local evaluator. Advantages are presented in exhibit 2.

Exhibit 2
Advantages of Hiring a Local Evaluator
Advantage Local Evaluator Victim Service Providers and Allied Professionals
Specialized Knowledge Possesses specialized knowledge and ability, understands how to assess the needs of a community, documents program outcomes, and collects and analyzes data Often do not have expertise in the scientific aspects of evaluation
Reduces Burden Reduces the burden on the program manager and staff who have limited time to devote to an evaluation Focused on providing services to clients; may not have time to conduct an evaluation
Objective Viewpoint Remains unbiased about the program under review, identifies the positive and negative aspects of a program, offers suggestions on how best to achieve the program’s goals Commitment to the work and belief in the effectiveness of the program may result in a biased interpretation of assessment or evaluation results
Higher Level of Credibility More knowledgeable and objective about the evaluation process, conclusions and recommendations tend to carry more weight with funding institutions, the field, and the general public Less knowledgeable about evaluation; the field may view the results as less credible
Fresh Perspective Brings to the table a different way of thinking about program effectiveness that is grounded in the findings from the data, not from previous working relationships Prior working relationships may limit creativity regarding ways to offer services in a network

Along with the advantages, there are also potential disadvantages to hiring a local evaluator. Two challenges that may arise are expense and fit:

  • Expense. Conducting a thorough needs assessment or program evaluation can be a costly and time-consuming process, especially for an evaluator who is not familiar with your community or program. To accelerate the startup process for a local evaluator, hire someone who has the competencies necessary for evaluating comprehensive services, is from your community, and has a basic understanding of crime victim services. If funds for evaluation are included in the program budget award, they can be used to help cover the expense. In the long run, hiring a local evaluator with specific evaluation expertise could be less expensive and produce better results than using existing staff.
  • Fit. Hiring an unqualified evaluator or one who does not work well with your organization or partnering organizations can be damaging; such an evaluator may alienate staff, infringe on clients and staff-client relationships, and draw incorrect conclusions about the community and program. Take the time necessary to find a proper match and select the best evaluator for the job. This helps to ensure that the evaluation process is not overly burdensome and that the findings help you answer your research questions about how your program and services are working.

It is important to carefully weigh all potential advantages and disadvantages when deciding whether to hire a local evaluator or to rely on the evaluation capabilities within your organization, or collaborating organizations, to develop and carry out the overall evaluation plan.