The Citizens Handbook
Evaluating Grassroot's Projects and Processes

Your group will need to evaluate both projects and processes if you wish to improve your effectiveness and stay on track. Unfortunately, many grassroots groups rarely evaluate either.

Don't evaluate when trying to create
Avoid evaluating and criticizing when trying to generate ideas. If you are facilitating a meeting, prohibit criticism when the group is brainstorming.

Make honest evaluation part of your group's culture
Make a habit of asking what worked and what could be better for both actions, and projects. Consider a round to evaluate group process at the end of meetings.
If you don't ask for honest feedback, you won't get it. Unhappy people will simply drop out. To get the most honest feedback, make responses anonymous, and obtain responses from people outside your immediate group.

Check on benefits to members
At the end of actions, ask participants about benefits. Did you learn anything? Did you have too little or too much to do? Did you have any fun? Did you feel part of the group?

Compare results with objectives
Is there a gap between what is happening and what you want to happen? If there is a persistent gap, you might consider getting help from a professional organizer. Another way of dealing with a persistent gap is to revise your objectives.

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The Troublemaker's Teaparty is a print version of The Citizen's Handbook published in 2003. It contains all of The Handbook plus additional material on preventing grassroots rot, strategic action, direct action and media advocacy. You can get a copy of The Teaparty from bookstores, Amazon or New Society Publishers.