Saving Starfish, or Why Evaluators Are Optimists

Everyone knows the story.

It's a great story about perseverance and compassion, about the small but tangible impacts we can have even when faced with what seems like an insurmountable problem. In the difficult world of delivering social interventions, it is stories and ideas like these that get people out of bed and into work every day—the knowledge that whatever else is happening in the world, we can make a positive change for someone.

As an evaluator, I do count myself among those whose work is dedicated toward improving the lives of others. While evaluation may seem a few steps removed from the difficult and important work of direct service delivery, if you speak to evaluators you will find that most of us are not in it just because we love numbers and metrics so very much. Sure, lots of us enjoy a good spreadsheet, but we do what we do because we sincerely believe that our work is valuable and necessary and makes a difference to the organizations and people we support, and therefore to the organizations and people they support. 'Helping people who help people' is my professional motto for a reason.

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