The costs of evaluation activity should be considered early on and built into the overall costs of implementing your work. Although completing a realistic budget can be challenging, the budget planning process for your funding application will help you to think through real-life implementation of your evaluation.
It is difficult to provide any hard and fast rules for estimating the costs of evaluation work. The least resource-intensive form of research is that which makes best use of existing information, existing groups, and in-house resources.
However even where you seek to build self-evaluation into the day-to-day activities of your organisation, or involve volunteers in evaluation activity, there will be implications for staff time and probably some additional direct costs.
Some organisations have a policy of setting aside a certain percentage of the total project budget for evaluation. Common estimates range between 5-20% of delivery costs, although it is much better to calculate costs accurately based on the tasks involved.
Some common cost categories for a self-evaluation budget include:
- Staffing, the actual cost of staff time involved in managing and implementing agreed self-evaluation activities as well as sharing findings.
- Materials and supplies, including things like administrative expenses, communications, stationary, catering for events, printing, and so on.
- Equipment, including relevant software, equipment for recording and editing sound and video, or other specialised items.
- Travel and subsistence, relating to direct and ongoing implementation of evaluation by staff and volunteers.
- Beneficiary costs, including costs necessary to ensure appropriate beneficiary participation in the evaluation, such as the costs of care, travel, interpreters, etc.
Costs of External Evaluation
Where it is deemed necessary to commission a specialist external evaluator as part of the project, the costs of the evaluation are likely to be somewhat higher. The fees of evaluators typically range from £300 and £700 per day, although specific evaluation tasks such as telephone surveys, data entry or transcription can usually be commissioned at lower daily rate.
A rate can also be negotiated for the delivery of the whole project that can be lower than the daily rate. Take care to agree to a contract that clarifies that payment is dependent on effective delivery of work. This should cover issues of schedule and quality. The other costs set out above relating to conducting the research and involving beneficiaries will also apply.
- Evaluation Support Scotland provides a useful guide on How to Budget for Self-Evaluation