Funding Difficulties

Author: Patrick Parnaby

Incorporating technological tools into evaluation plans can please funders.

Your funders will want you to look at your project from many angles. Providing them with a sound evaluation plan gives funders the assurance they need.


Your project wasn’t able to secure funding because your evaluation plan was “weak.”


Develop a comprehensive evaluation plan early in the grant writing process that measures the validity of your program’s objectives and include an evaluation budget in your funding request. The early plan will help clarify goals, define objectives and refine procedures. Integrating technology into your evaluation plan makes it more feasible, manageable, and cost effective, thereby increasing the chances that your project will be funded.


Performing a descriptive, summative evaluation on a program can help demonstrate to stakeholders that the program is meeting its objectives. An action-oriented, formative evaluation can help define objectives more clearly and allows you to use the feedback to make changes where necessary.

An evaluation plan should:

  • Describe the project’s stakeholders.
  • Identify what questions the evaluation will answer.
  • Explain what data you expect to collect.
  • Demonstrate how you will collect and analyze the data.
  • Describe how you will deliver your results to your stakeholders.
  • Outline the budget for the evaluation.

A good evaluation plan is flexible enough to allow for modification as program needs change or if the evaluation results are not as expected.

Because the logistics of developing and implementing an evaluation plan can be cumbersome and costly, projects sometimes promise what they can’t deliver. This can have a decidedly negative impact on prospective funding for future projects. Introducing technology can help your evaluation plan succeed, and increase the chances that your current and future projects will be funded, by judiciously integrating a technology system into your evaluation. Technology systems can make data collection and reporting considerably easier, faster, and less costly. Funders will appreciate that you can have better evaluation data earlier, that you and your staff won’t spend your energies dealing with the logistics of paper data collection, and that the feedback from your constituents will be qualitatively and quantitatively better than that collected through traditional methods.

Several options for stand-alone technological tools are available that can help you collect evaluation data or manage your project. If you have a savvy technical team, you can use free, open source software; your project can buy, license, or use commercial software products; or another option is to use an integrated system that links evaluations, content, and reporting, and results in the ability to obtain, manage, analyze, and disseminate evaluation data about specific parts of a program or project.


  • Worthen, B., Sanders, J. & Fitzpatrick, J. (1997) Program evaluation: Alternative approaches and practical guidelines. (2nd Ed.) New York, NY: Addison, Welsley, & Longman.
  • Patton, M. (1997) Utilization focused evaluation: The new century text. (3rd ed.) Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation (1994) The program evaluations standards: How to assess evaluations of educational programs. (2nd Ed.) Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Patrick Parnaby, a professor of sociology, was the former director of P.F. Consulting & Social Research, a research-based consultancy specializing in survey design and social research.

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