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Foundation Operations: Evaluation-> Managing External Evaluators

What standards should a professional evaluator abide by?

Evaluators should know and comply with the American Evaluation Association’s guiding principles. Details about the five principles can be obtained from the association’s Web site ( Here is a brief description of some of the more salient points. These guiding principles can be useful in two ways: 1) for the foundation to use as part of the contract with evaluators to them accountable to a set of professional standards, and 2) for discussion between the foundation and the evaluator to make more explicit each other’s beliefs, expectations, and responsibilities:

  • systematic inquiry – the evaluator should be able to explain his/her methodology in sufficient detail, including data collection methods, analysis strategies, limitations, and any modifications that might have been made during the whole process;

  • competence – the evaluator should have state-of-the-art knowledge about evaluation and the topic(s) relevant to the evaluation (for example, health disparities, immigrant integration, education). The evaluator should demonstrate some level of involvement in a professional association that deals with the topic(s) and with evaluation;

  • integrity/honesty – evaluators must be explicit about their own, foundations’ and other stakeholders’ interests, values, and potential conflicts of interest. Evaluators must also be clear with the foundation about the limitations of the evaluation and the trade-offs between different methodologies such that the foundation can make an informed decision about the best methodology that fits the existing resources. Evaluators must also be honest about whether or not they think the foundation is ready for an evaluation and what type of evaluation;

  • respect of people – evaluators should be sensitive to the contextual elements of the evaluation and the power and cultural differences among the people who will be involved; and

  •  responsibilities to general and public welfare – evaluators have to be aware of the assumptions, implications, and potential side effects of the evaluation on a particular group of people or community, and maintain balance between the foundation’s needs with other stakeholders’ needs.


Contributed by Kien Lee, Association for the Study and Development of Community, 05/14/2007.

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