This section provides an overview of some of the activities you would need to do when hosting a conference, workshop or seminar series. A variety of tools and examples are provided in the resources section.
It is quite common for VOPEs to have a capacity building or advocacy focus in their mission, which would require that they occasionally host evaluation events such as conferences, workshops and seminars. The advent of online webinar facilities, have made it possible to host some of the capacity building events in an online space, but a good old fashioned face-to-face get together is often extremely valuable for building the credibility of your VOPE. Conferences, workshops and seminars are often also a useful way for an association to build their financial resources – evaluation professionals often do not mind paying for professional development opportunities of high quality.
When you are planning your event, take into consideration why you are hosting it, whom you are targeting, what the focus will be, and when it will take place. The venue of your conference and how you will be funding it are also very important considerations. These questions have been extensively covered in the “Starter Kit for holding and Evaluation Conference” prepared by Hickson and Loesch-Griffin for affiliates and friends of the American Evaluation Association (see resources). Although this information has a distinct focus on the American Local Affiliates of the AEA context, many of the sections of the document are very useful for VOPEs in other areas of the world.
Other considerations are:
- Consider using an online system to process payments and manage conference registration. You can develop your own system, or choose one of the off-the shelf products available to help you with everything from the call for papers, to the issuing of invoices, and collection of registration information. In the advice section below, you will find an overview from Idealware about some prominent event registration options.
- Once you have hosted your first conference, it may be necessary to think about writing up a formal evaluation conference policy, and to put together a toolkit of your own. An example from the CES is provided in the resources section.
- If you expect that international delegates are likely to attend your event, be prepared to issue letters of invitation for visa purposes, and provide relevant travel and accommodation information.
- In order to ensure that a wide range of delegates are likely to attend your conference, consider implementing a Bursary program. Some ideas for this are listed in the examples section.
- Consider making available the presentations, papers or abstracts presented at your conference on a web-page after the conference, and if possible, make the conference content available on a thumb drive for all conference participants. A selection of the conference presentations may also be published as conference proceedings or expanded into a special edition journal.
- Consider listing your evaluation conference as an event in one of the bigger directories of evaluation events such as http://betterevaluation.org/events or http://www.evaluation.lars-balzer.name/calendar .
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