PHASE THREE: LEGACY
Step 07
Learning from Evidence: External Communication

Share your evaluation findings in a variety of traditional and new formats in order to engage different audiences. This way, you communicate your legacy to your many stakeholders in ways that they can understand the REAL story of your program.

This is the exciting part of finally sharing your evaluation results and your program’s story with your stakeholders! This is all part of establishing, capturing and sharing the legacy of your program’s impact on youth wellbeing.

A carefully and intentionally crafted story from your evaluation can be a powerful tool to share the impact of your work. But it’s not just about sharing your outcomes straight from your evaluation report. In this step, we’ll provide some simple, but important strategies and communications principles to remember when sharing your evaluation results externally. We also provide simple design principles that non-designers can easily take on and use when creating reports, infographics and other types of communications content.

There are lots of different channels and ways you can effectively share your evaluation and program story with external stakeholders, so let’s get started!

What is the ideal platform or channel you should use to share your organization’s impact with specific groups of stakeholders?
What are the outcomes from your evaluation you want to share?
How can simple design principles help amplify the impact of your program’s story?

TAKEAWAY FROM STEP 07

Communications products targeted at your various stakeholder audiences.

Key Actions

01

Know your story! You will have tons of data, outcomes and a report or two to work with after you complete your evaluation. It might seem easy to just share those results straight up, but we recommend thinking through this process carefully so your message can have a greater impact. Use these questions as a guide to cementing your program’s story:

  • What are the outcomes from your evaluation that you want to share?
  • Are there promising practices that would be helpful to communicate to external stakeholders?
  • What can people learn from, based on your evaluation experience or the program that you’ve evaluated?
  • What are your organization/program’s next steps, knowing the results of this evaluation?

audience

02

Know your audience: Not everyone connects to the same message, wants to know the same type of information, and engages with the same channels of communication. While you probably aren’t able to communicate and create something specific for every single stakeholder, it’s really valuable to think through how to effectively communicate with your different audiences. Going through these questions will help you know exactly what your communications plan will entail and what kinds of products to create:

  • Tailor your message to your audience
  • Who are you sharing your story with?
    • What does that audience want to know?
    • What do you want to share?
    • What kind of language is appropriate? (ie. informal tone vs. formal tone)
  • What communication channel suits the audience you’re sharing your story with?

03

Identify what communication channel works best for what audience? What creative formats can you use?

  • Examples include: social media, events, reports, infographics, art/music, community engagement roundtables, blog posts, visual reports, factsheets and long narratives etc.
  • You don’t have to do everything! Pick based on your story, your audience, the skills available to support on your team, and your capacity (time, money and staff-wise)

04

Create your communications products! When doing so, make sure you stay consistent – with your message and your design – throughout. 

  • Overall ‘brand’ story: What is your organization’s vision and mission?
  • Design:
    • What kind of language, colors, visuals represent your organization?
    • What elements can you use to tie the look and feel of your products together?
    • What can you use to create a sense of harmony in your look?
    • What visual elements resonate with your stakeholders?
    • Hierarchy is important:
      • What are the key elements of your reports/poster/image? How can you emphasize and draw attention to the?
      • Try grouping related elements
      • Use white space to add breathing room and avoid overwhelming your reader.
  • Evaluation Story – regardless of your audience, the overall message should resonate across all of them

05

Engage your network: Champions in your network can be integral to getting your evaluation story and learnings out to a wider audience.  

  • Identify champions
  • Identify communications channels by considering the impact and reach you want. For example:
    • Twitter: can be used to reach people in and outside of your immediate network; bite-sized, visual elements are key
    • Mailing List: great to reach stakeholders who are working directly in your sector and who you generally know
    • Report: you will likely do a report for any funders you have; these can be modified for those stakeholders (such as governance board members) who will take the time to read through all the details of your evaluation.
    • You could also try…: an event, one-page brief, bite-sized images with text, a presentation at community meetings etc.
Hot Tips

Authenticity is valuable – and valued.

When you start developing your program story for communications purposes, it is important to be authentic. People can tell when you are, and appreciate it. Within reason, and taking into consideration what makes sense for the purpose of your communication, share your program ‘successes’ but also share challenges you faced and areas for change and improvement. Your audience will be able to connect more to your story, and perhaps, even learn from it!

Check back with your organization or program’s mission and vision.

Does your evaluation story align and connect with your overall organizational or program mission and vision? What you share is all part of the broader communication of your organization as whole; it can strengthen how your different stakeholders understand your work and vision.

Q&A

How can I cut down on the time it takes to create and design communications products?

There are a lot of free tools that you can use you create visually cohesive and effective communications products (see  the tools tab on this step). It’s also important to, if possible, invest some time in coming up with a visual ‘brand’ scheme – a few key colors, images, logo, a standard font etc. – that you can consistently use throughout all your products. Once you do this, it’ll be much easier to create new products, as you’ll already have this guide to work with.

How can I effectively engage my stakeholders using my communications products?

Inspire action (+ feelings)! Try to relate to your audience while thinking through: Why are you sharing your story? What do you want your audience to do with this knowledge? Give your audience a reason to care, to be engaged, and to act – whether that is by volunteering for your organization, donating, sending your evaluation report to potential stakeholders etc. You can also suggest a ‘call to action’ when you send out your materials, letting them know what you want them to do!

Theories of Change are great when you need to:

  • Design a complex initiative & want to have a rigorous plan for success
  • Evaluate appropriate outcomes at the right time & the right sequence
  • Explain why an initiative worked or did not work

There are so many fonts to pick from! How do I choose and use them?

Consider picking one font for the majority of your text, and a secondary font for headings, titles, quotes etc. You can also use different weights (this means picking from light, regular and bold) to create visual interest and hierarchy. It can be tempting to use fun, funky fonts, but use them sparingly as they can be distracting and hard to read.

Tools / Templates / Checklists

Social Media Tools

These tools will help you schedule your social media activity, making it easier for you to be active online.

HootsuiteBuffer

Evaluation Report Checklist

This checklist is meant to be used as a diagnostic guide to identify elements of evaluation reports that could be enhanced using graphic design best practices and/or the assistance of a graphic design expert.

Source: Stephanie Evergreen
DOWNLOAD THIS CHECKLIST

Planning Dialogues with Community Stakeholders

Reviewing these sample materials can help you make plans for engaging in dialogue about evaluation findings with staff, families, and community partners.

Source: Evaluation Toolkit for Magnet School Programs
DOWNLOAD THIS TOOL

Creating Infographics

Try these platforms to create simple, but visually effective infographics and images.

CanvaVisme
SEE MORE HERE
Learn More...

Watch: Social Impact Design: Creating a Culture of Storytelling & Evaluation

Read: Make it count: How to share your evaluation results in meaningful ways

Read: How to Tell a Great Story

Source: Written by Carolyn O’Hara, Harvard Business Review
READ IT HERE

Read: Communicating Evaluation Results

Source: Written by Cheryl Holm-Hansen, Wilder Research
DOWNLOAD HERE
CHECK IT OUT

“Sharing experiences through stories is emerging in various professions as a powerful way to exchange and consolidate knowledge. Research suggests that sharing experiences though narrative builds trust, cultivates norms, transfers tacit knowledge, facilitates unlearning, and generates emotional connections.”

Storytelling in Organizations: The power and traps of using stories to share knowledge in organizations, Deborah Sole and Daniel G Wilson, 1999