USAID evaluations of all types are expected to use sound social science methods and include a number of basic features, one of which is an evaluation dissemination plan. USAID's Evaluation Policy envisions that an evaluation dissemination plan will be developed in parallel to USAID’s initial work on an evaluation's design, and will inform the development of an evaluation Statement of Work (SOW).
USAID’s call for the development of an evaluation dissemination plan early in the evaluation process, as illustrated below, helps to ensure that everything needed to support dissemination is considered well ahead of time. More importantly, a well thought through and executed evaluation dissemination plan will help ensure that strong linkages between evaluation and planning envisioned in the Program Cycle diagram are forged.
One of the things that makes it relatively easy for USAID staff to develop an evaluation dissemination plan early in the evaluation process is it doesn’t require much information to get started. All one really has to know is who the project stakeholders are and what types of questions the evaluation will try to address. One does not need to know either the methods the evaluation will use or what the findings are to envision appropriate processes and products for communicating evaluation results, whatever they may be, to the various audiences for a mid-term or final evaluation, or for a rigorous impact evaluation.
A project team that prepares a preliminary evaluation dissemination plan in advance of drafting an evaluation Statement of Work (SOW) will be in a good position to accurately describe the range of deliverables the evaluation team will be expected to produce. This includes written products the team will be expected to produce as well as the number and types of presentations the evaluation team will be expected to make, and in what languages these products should be provided. A preliminary evaluation dissemination plan will also help a USAID project team determine the level of resources it needs to reserve to implement aspects of the evaluation dissemination plan which USAID itself will manage after the evaluation team’s work is finished.
USAID’s Evaluation Policy does not prescribe a specific format or coverage for an evaluation dissemination plan. Among the donor organizations, UNIFEM has perhaps the best-developed guide for developing an evaluation dissemination strategy. That volume, which is featured on this page, includes useful lists of ideas about what kinds of evaluation information various types of stakeholders find useful. It also includes lists of types of evaluation dissemination products and forum that may be appropriate. Another useful resource is a list of Ten Elements of an Effective Dissemination Plan which has been adapted for USAID evaluations from a helpful website on research dissemination.
Another useful resource for developing an evaluation dissemination plan will be the Learning Approaches USAID staff have developed at the program level in their PMP and in a project’s MEL Plan. These documents will already have identified many of the stakeholders with whom an evaluation’s results need to be shared. They may have also identified how and how frequently the Mission expects to engage in learning exchanges with country partners. An evaluation dissemination plan may be able to interface with some of these learning strategies.