Evaluation holds real power; it influences the direction of the social sector via the evidence that it generates. Because of the influence that it can wield, evaluation can be a positive contributor to equity: both in the way that it is designed and executed (process), and the use it has in the real world.
Equitable evaluation is about using evaluation as a tool for advancing equity, aligning evaluation practices with an equity approach. It does this by exploring who is making decisions about evaluation, whose knowledge and voice is valued in the process, and what purpose the evaluation serves.
This paper introduces the ideas that underpin equitable evaluation, explaining how it connects to other approaches that you may be more familiar with. It sets out what we see as the key issues with evaluation that equitable evaluation seeks to address, the benefits that can arise from equitable evaluation, and some principles to consider in your work.
We’ve written this paper with funders in mind, it is for all funders in the social sector who recognise the importance of social justice and have a commitment to tackling inequity through the work that they support. It speaks to funders because, as they shape the terms for assessment, changes in their practices are crucial. However, this paper is also relevant to the wider evaluation ecosystem, which includes evaluators, community stakeholders, professional networks, and firms. We believe that the approaches and principles described here are useful for charities, and other social sector organisations, who have a social justice and equity ethos.