Evaluation is used to describe a coalition’s planned and careful use of information. Making sure that the right information is gathered in the right way and provided to the right people is what evaluation is all about. What makes coalition evaluation so important is not merely the process of collecting information but the powerful things people can do with the results.

A high-quality evaluation ensures people have the right information. What information do coalition supporters, volunteers and leaders need? How do they use evaluation information? Five uses or functions exist for information gathered through evaluation.


The first, and most important, function of information gathered by a coalition evaluation is improvement. Volunteers, leaders and supporters should get better at community problem solving because of what they learn from evaluation data.


Coalitions are made up of many partners and volunteers all working on different parts of an overall response to community drug problems. Keeping all of these partners and activities lined up and pointing in the same direction can be difficult unless the coalition’s evaluation fosters coordination. The information produced by the evaluation should help members know what others are doing, how this work fits with their own actions and goals, and what opportunities exist for working together in the future.


Volunteers want to know if their gift of time and creativity is making a difference. Funders want to know if their money is contributing to a better community. Everyone involved in coalition work is eager to see outcomes. A good evaluation allows the coalition to describe what contribution is being made to important community level outcomes.


A stated aim of any evaluation process should be to collect data that allows the coalition and its members to celebrate genuine accomplishment. The path to reducing drug use at the community level is not easy. Regular celebration of progress is needed to keep everyone motivated and encouraged in the face of difficult work.


The path to reduced drug use also can be long. It often requires years of hard work to see movement in community level indicators of substance abuse. Likewise, new community problems emerge requiring a renewed response. Evaluation should help the coalition stay “in the game” long enough to make a difference by sharing information with key stakeholders and actively nurturing their continued support.

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