From Mike Hendricks, AEA Representative to the International Organization for Cooperation in Evaluation (IOCE), with contributions from Jim Rugh, EvalPartners Co-Coordinator
If you answered “Yes,” or maybe even “Heck, yes!” then you need to know about AEA’s International Partnership Program (IPP). This is a fairly new program for AEA, and the idea is to fund temporary, short-term projects between our Local Affiliates or Topical Interest Groups (TIGs) and groups of evaluators in other countries. It’s an exciting option, and we hope you and your colleagues take advantage of it. But be aware – the deadline for the next opportunity is July 31.
First, though, let’s explain one piece of jargon: In the global arena, organized groups of evaluators are known as VOPEs (pronounced “VOE-peez”), which stands for Voluntary Organizations for Professional Evaluation. AEA is a VOPE, and so are the Canadian Evaluation Society, the Paraguayan Evaluation Network, the Vietnam Network for M&E, etc. Right now there are 124 national VOPEs, nine subnational VOPEs, and 18 regional VOPEs recognized by the International Organization for Cooperation in Evaluation (IOCE). That’s 151 VOPEs – amazing growth from only seven VOPEs just 20 years ago!
The IPP provides up to $5,000 to allow an AEA Local Affiliate or TIG to partner with one or more VOPEs in other countries so that each partner both gives and receives knowledge and improves each other’s capacity. For example, a Local Affiliate could partner with an appropriate VOPE elsewhere (as the Washington Evaluators did very recently with VOPEs in Central Asia). Or a TIG could partner with a national or regional VOPE that shares similar interests (for example, the Environmental Program Evaluation TIG might partner with Caribbean Evaluators International to advance good practices for evaluating the protection of coral reefs).
The possibilities of the IPP really are enormous. To help you, here are nine easy steps to an international partnership:
- Learn the details about the IPP. We’ve described the basics, but click here to learn more.
- Decide if it makes more sense to work through your Local Affiliate or one of your TIGs. Here is a list of all 29 Local Affiliates, and here is a list of all 55 TIGs.
- Approach the leaders of your Local Affiliate or TIG to gauge their interest. Remember that the stated objective of the IPP is “strengthening the professional organizations and practitioners of evaluation.”
- Sketch out the beginnings of a project for an international partnership. Keep in mind that the project should be short, self-contained, and cost no more than $5,000. (Note that the $5,000 is not a grant. It covers actual hard costs that are paid directly by AEA, such as travel or accommodation.) To help you get started, here is a wonderful toolkit that’s filled with good ideas about developing and strengthening a VOPE.
- Identify a VOPE outside the U.S. that would be an appropriate partner for your project. (It’s possible to partner with more than one VOPE, as Washington Evaluators did.) The IOCE has a directory of registered VOPEs and an interactive map of VOPEs around the world.
- Since other VOPEs are asked to register on the IOCE database, it would be a good idea to resister your Local Affiliate there as well. Yes, your Local Affiliate can be recognized as a VOPE, too!
- Contact your intended partner VOPE to gauge its interest. Contact information for each VOPE is available in the IOCE directory mentioned above; more detailed information about most VOPEs is available from survey responses accessible here.
- If both (or all) parties are interested, jointly develop the required application, which can be found on this page.
- Don’t hesitate! Remember, the next deadline for applications is July 31, so that gives you only two months to complete steps one through eight.
As you can see, it’s not that hard to develop an international evaluation partnership. We urge you to take advantage of this new AEA program, and we look forward to reporting your great success in a future column.