Section 1: Evaluation Purpose and Partners

Step 6: Design your collaborative, including a governance structure and process, partner responsibilities, and budget and time constraints

A clear governance structure and processes for collaborative engagement will support partnership cohesiveness and effectiveness throughout evaluation planning and implementation.

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Tools and Resources

Governance Principles
Provides guidance on developing a governance structure and process for partnerships

Governance structure

Reflect on the history of your partnership, the purposes for partners' participation, the maturity of the initiative, and the degree of formality of the governance mechanisms for interaction.

Establish a governance structure that supports shared decision-making and accountability, including:

  • Identifying a lead agency (fiscal accountability and coordination).
  • Assigning a representative set of core partners to lead the partnership, such as a steering committee (shared decision-making authority).
  • Gathering input and feedback from an extended network of partners varying in skills, expertise, or resources. This extended network of partners can also be organized into subcommittees or workgroups to facilitate progress on multiple evaluation goals and objectives at the same time.

Consider the following options for organizing your partners and determine the best fit for your collaborative work, including:

  • A hierarchical organizational structure with regular committee and subcommittee meetings involving all partners.
  • A management team of core partners that meets regularly and invites partners to participate as needed or available.
  • A “revolving” partnership that is project-oriented, permitting partners to spend time focused solely on what interests them and to participate in focused meetings with relevant partners to discuss these specific projects or activities.
  • An informal collaboration with open meetings as needed among staff and/or volunteers.

Governance processes

Several processes can facilitate good governance practices in your partnership, including:

  • Developing strong leadership and group management skills among partners.
  • Forming groups (e.g., committees, task forces) to distribute the workload.
  • Creating partnership principles or a partner orientation manual.
    • Document and share the partnership's history.
    • Establish mechanisms for all members to voice their opinions and share their expertise.
    • Require partners to have consistent meeting attendance.
    • Increase partners’ cultural competency.
    • Address the needs of representatives of lower-income neighborhoods, including selecting convenient times and places for meetings as well as providing meals, childcare, and transportation assistance to attendees.
  • Providing training and orientation to new partners.
  • Pooling resources across the partnership (e.g., staff, funding, skills).
  • Maintaining records on the partnership’s processes, decisions, and accomplishments.
  • Developing succession plans to support leadership transitions.

The effort to delineate roles and responsibilities is an ongoing process through the life of the partnership for the following primary reasons:

  • As you and your evaluation partners move through design and planning stages into implementation of the evaluation plan, partners' respective roles and responsibilities will likely shift over time.
  • To promote shared governance, regular leadership transitions can foster greater inclusion and representativeness of partners.
  • Leadership, staff, or volunteer turnover is common in partnerships, thus it is helpful to have multiple partners assigned to different roles and responsibilities to increase institutional memory and partnership sustainability.

With these changes in mind, work with your partners to assign roles and responsibilities for evaluation planning and implementation.

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Evaluation Partner Planning Grid Template
A template to guide assignment of roles and responsibilities for evaluation.

Critical evaluation skills and capacities of partners include previous experience in research methods or evaluation (e.g., design, data collection methods, analysis and summary).

Supplemental skills and capacities may include having talented networkers, diplomatic personalities, good listening skills, passion about pedestrian safety issues, perseverance, dedication, adaptability.

Assess your partner's' evaluation skills, readiness, and capacity for evaluation as well as assets and available funds or resources to support evaluation efforts.

Identify potential needs for training or technical assistance.

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Tip for Success

Ensure each organizational partner has more than one person involved in the partnership to maintain institutional memory in the event of staff turnover.

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Examples from the Field

FL Pedestrian and Bicycle Strategic Safety Plan - Partner Roles
An example of the types of partners and their roles in a pedestrian safety evaluation.

NY DOT Steps to form evaluation team
An example of the steps taken in to form a successful evaluation team.

NC Watch 4 Me Partner Input
An example of how successfully integrate partners into the overall evaluation planning process.

Local champions may sometimes be absent from initial planning efforts. You and your evaluation partners should consider investing time in recruiting these community partners given that they:

Can generate valuable enthusiasm for your work behind the scenes, in the public eye, and with populations of interest.

Are often knowledgeable, well-known, energetic, respected, and trusted individuals that may also be in positions of power or influence.

Local champions can also:

  • Engage many different communities and audiences;
  • Inspire movement from vision to action;
  • Leverage funding;
  • Stand up to established thinking and lead advocacy efforts;
  • Maintain and support direct and indirect participation of the community; and
  • Connect the right people to the right opportunities.3
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Examples from the Field

NC Watch 4 Me Community Champion
An example of how to successfully utilize community champions in an evaluation.

Once you and your evaluation partners have delegated responsibilities to different individuals, you are ready to begin to outline tasks and timelines for these respective duties. A template is available to assist you and your partners through this process:

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Gantt Chart and Timeline of Evaluation Activities
A template to guide the development of a timeline for evaluation.

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Tips for Success

Institute shared leadership or periodic leadership changes to bring new energy to the evaluation, overcome bureaucratic or regulatory roadblocks, or realign partners with the vision over time.

Enhance partnership sustainability by increasing consistency and follow through among leaders and staff, offering revolving partnership membership, creating long range plans, or involving representatives from local government.

You and your evaluation partners will need to agree on a budget for expenses associated with the evaluation. The budget should be revisited and revised as new partners join or as your evaluation plan is revised and adapted.

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Tools and Resources

Sample Budget
Provides guidelines for developing a budget


  1. Baker EA, Wilkerson R, Brennan LK. Identifying the Role of Community Partnerships in Creating Change to Support Active Living. American Journal of Preventive Medicine2012;43(5S4):S290-S299.

Next: Continue to Section 2
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