A maximum of 20 pages! That was our main requirement for the final report on the findings of the evaluation of the Global Humanitarian Partnership between C&A, C&A Foundation and Save the Children. In an era of information overload, the request from C&A Foundation was a genuine attempt to simplify the key messages in the hope that the report would be read and consequently increase its usability.
As much as we tried, though, our team three independent consultants working on the evaluation found it impossible to only convene the key messages and leave the juicy (and rich) details out. We felt that not telling the stories in full would disappoint some of the stakeholders, who were expecting a “traditional” report. Our solution: a 20 page main report with 80 pages of annexes.
It was a compromise for now. In the future, we all agreed we have to review how we communicate the results of evaluations beyond the reports. In the meantime, C&A Foundation is very open and transparent about their work and they have published the full report as well as their own executive-summary of the key lessons learned.
The question on how to communicate the evaluation findings in an engaging way also intrigues us. So much so, that we decided to experiment in this evaluation and to provide part of the results as an animation. Like the report, it was not easy to summarize the findings. We have produced an long and a short version and we still do not feel the length is right. Also, like the report, it is a compromise for now.
The skills to write concisely and engagingly do not come naturally to technical experts carrying-out the evaluations. How to bridge this gap is the “holy grail” of report writing. If you have any ideas that might help, please get in touch with us and share your knowledge!