Evaluating Community Impact

There are countless community change initiatives working on a diversity of issues, such as early childhood development, health care, education, poverty and homelessness, immigration and workforce development, and ecological sustainability. It’s relatively easy to evaluate the success of an individual program, but how do you evaluate multi-faceted, large-scale community change initiatives?

Assessing and measuring systems change has the unique challenges of dealing with unanticipated outcomes, working through the process of sense-making, and figuring out how to attribute outcomes to change activities. Learning how to evaluate community impact is important for those involved in funding, planning and the implementing community change initiatives.

We have curated a robust body of knowledge, resources and tools focused on both Evaluation Planning and Outcome Evaluation to help you to assess the impact of your community change work.


Evaluating Community Impact

Featured Resources

Getting Started

Evaluations That People Use

Developing Evaluations that Are Used

By Tamarack Institute

Evaluation findings, if used at all, are usually one piece of the decision making pie, not the whole pie. Rhetoric about "data-based decision making" and "evidence-based practice" can give the impression that one simply looks at evaluation results and a straightforward decision follows. Erase that image from your mind. That is seldom, if ever, the case.


Evaluating Collective Impact: Five Simple Rules

By Mark Cabaj

Since the 1960s, the field of evaluation has struggled to develop concepts and methods that are useful for the complex work of community change. The ambitious nature of the latest iteration of community change approaches, Collective Impact, amplifies this challenge. This article describes five simple rules that have emerged out of 50 years of trial and error that can assist participants, funders, and evaluators of Collective Impact initiatives to track their progress and make sense of their efforts. 

Taking It Further

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Network Mapping: At A Glance

By Robyn Kalda, Peggy Schultz, Suzanne Schwenger & Health Nexus

This tool will help groups look at how they are working together now, and how they might work together even more effectively to reach their specified goals.  This tool will help you to visualize and explore relationships within your group so that you are able to identify potential relationships, and strengthen your existing group. 

Most Significant Change

Most Significant Change

By Tamarack Institute

This tool will help guide you through the Most Significant Change process.  This technique is a form of participatory monitoring and evaluation. It is participatory because many project stakeholders are involved both in deciding the sorts of change to be recorded and in analyzing the data. It is a form of monitoring because it occurs throughout the program cycle and provides information to help people manage the program.

Communities of Practice

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Evaluating Community Impact Community of Practice

The aim of this Evaluation Community of Practice (CoP) is to bring together committed evaluation practitioners who want to connect, share, learn about, and hone their evaluation approaches and tools.



Measuring Poverty Reduction Community of Practice

This Community of Pracitce is for individuals who want to dig deeper into evaluation-related strategies, techniques and tools that they can apply to their own poverty reduction efforts.



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Learn about Tamarack's upcoming learning calendar

Interested in expanding your knowledge and capacity to tackle the community issues you're facing? Tamarack hosts a number of in-person workshops as well as free online webinars and communities of practice to help you meet this challenge.

Explore upcoming opportunities