A while back we with met with the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation evaluator and program manager for some advice on evaluating Book-It’s programs around the reading behaviors of our audiences. They had great counsel and we have done everything they suggested. I just got off the phone with them again to get more counsel and the big message was...RIGOR – it’s all about rigor. Evaluation in the arts can feel like an illusive challenge – how do you quantify your artistic work and your mission?!? I have to say, while it is hard, it’s not impossible – AND getting concrete data is exciting as it informs the work – pushing us to uncomfortable places. And it’s in these states of discomfort that growth/change can occur.
This May we are finally kicking off our focus groups – the process has brought staff together to identify hypotheses regarding what we think Book-It does and the impact Book-It has on its audiences. We sent about 3300 emails out to different segments of our audience and got a huge response from people who want to participate – 400 so far.
Next steps are to turn our hypotheses into good questions for surveys and the focus groups – turns out crafting good questions is an art. We’ve piloted many things and continue to morph how we phrase questions and statements.
We’ve got a sampling of pictures of documents we’ve created to support us in these endeavors. They might provide a little visual context for the lists, statements, thoughts, and questions we’re investigating...
-- Gail Sehlhorst, Book-It