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Accountability and development? Supporting provider-led evaluation of short-term community social-change projects

Author(s): 
Sarah Appleton-Dyer and Adrian Field

Evaluating the outcomes of social-change initiatives is often conceptualised as a long-term endeavour, where the impacts take some years to assess. This is feasible for large-scale, multiyear initiatives, but challenging for relatively small-scale, community-based projects with short-term funding cycles. This article discusses the evaluation techniques developed to work with a range of short-term community projects funded through two national social-change campaigns to address bullying, and the exclusion of disabled people, in Aotearoa New Zealand. Drawing primarily on developmental evaluation and supported by results-based accountability (RBA), the evaluators provided evaluation support and capability building to community projects to support their development journeys and accountability requirements. We draw on our reflections and learning to identify the value of this approach, as well as the challenges and tensions that emerged from integrating developmental evaluation and RBA. Implications for practice are highlighted through these discussions.

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