Developmental Evaluation

What is Developmental Evaluation?

Developmental Evaluation is an approach to evaluation that supports continuous adaptation to development interventions. It embeds evaluative thinking throughout the program cycle through the presence of an embedded evaluator and collaborative, action-oriented tools.

The purpose of this page is to promote resources connected to Developmental Evaluation and showcase best practices, tools, and templates for implementing a Developmental Evaluation.

Suggested Resources

We have highlighted some recommended resources for members of the DME for Peace community that are interested in learning more about Developmental Evaluation.

Implementing Developmental Evaluation: A Practical Guide for Evaluators and Administrators (2019)

Increased interest in complexity-aware and utilization focused evaluation has given Developmental Evaluation (DE) greater currency among evaluators, donors, and implementing partners alike. Although DE has gained traction over the past few years in the evaluation community, and gained interest within the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), there are still few cases of use and a small practitioner base that is able to speak to operationalizing this type of evaluation. Likewise, there is little practical guidance available to help stakeholders interact with DE for the first time.

This “Administrator’s and Evaluator’s Guide” is geared specifically for people conducting DEs as a Developmental Evaluator and/or a person managing the overall process (the DE Administrator). It draws from real experience implementing DEs for USAID and from other contexts that may provide relevant learning to DEs within USAID.

Implementing Developmental Evaluation: A Practical Guide for Funders (2019)

This “Funders Guide”  is geared towards people responsible for commissioning a Developmental Evaluation (DE). USAID draws from experience implementing DEs, and from other contexts that may provide relevant learning to DEs within USAID. USAID believes that many aspects of the learning shared here may be applicable to DEs outside the USAID context, but may require some adaptation.

7 Hot Tips for Implementing a Developmental Evaluation

In the below recording, Rebecca Herrington outlines “7 Hot Tips for Implementing a Developmental Evaluation.

The Evolution of Collective Impact

In the following webinar, Michael Sayre dicusses “The Evolution of Collective Impact.” Since it was first presented in an article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review in 2011, the collective impact approach has quickly gained adherents among governments, foundations, and other donors who see it as a coherent framework to achieve large-scale social change through multi-sectoral collaboration. In the years since collective impact was first introduced, practitioners have tested the approach in a variety of contexts, allowing for a more critical assessment of collective impact’s strengths and limitations. In this webinar, Michael reviewed the evolution of collective impact, presented lessons learned from evaluating a collective impact approach in a developing country context and shared examples of additional collaborative models.

What is the DEPA-MERL Project?

DME for Peace is delighted to be working on the DEPA-MERL project through Search for Common Ground.

The Developmental Evaluation Pilot Activity (DEPA-MERL) project is an initiative under the Global Development Lab’s Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, and Learning Innovations (MERLIN) program. Developmental evaluation was created to evaluate innovative programs that operate in complex environments and are thus expected to adapt over time. DEPA-MERL is testing the effectiveness of a developmental evaluation approach at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). DEPA-MERL likewise is testing monitoring and evaluation tools and flexible contracting mechanisms necessary in achieving effective programming for innovative interventions, untested theories of change, and/or implementation in complex contexts through the use of developmental evaluations. The evidence gathered through developmental evaluation pilots on a select handful of activities, projects, or programs and the accompanying performance evaluations will serve to encourage effective use of developmental evaluation to strengthen development programming, and in establishing precedence and guidelines for undertaking developmental evaluations and the use of flexible contracting mechanisms for evaluators, implementing partners and donors to enable enhanced programmatic impact. DEPA-MERL is implemented by Social Impact (SI), in partnership with the William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan, and Search for Common Ground.

For more information on DEPA-MERL click here.

To contact DEPA-MERL:

Consortium Contact: Gabrielle Plotkin,

USAID Contact: Shannon Griswold,


This website is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID.) The contents of this website are the sole responsibility of Social Impact and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.


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