AEA hosts an online, free, and open to anyone list serve called EVALTALK, managed by the University of Alabama.  This week, Felix Herzog posted the following question.


How much can/should an evaluation cost? 


This is a question I often get asked, especially by Extension faculty.  This question is especially relevant because more Extension faculty are responding to request for proposals (RFP) or request for contract (RFC) that call for an evaluation.  The questions arise about how does one budget for the evaluation.  Felix  compiled what he discovered and I’ve listed it below.  It is important to note that this is not just the evaluator’s salary, rather all expenses which relate to evaluating the program–data entry, data management, data analysis, report writing, as well as the evaluator’s salary, data collection instrument development, pilot testing, and the salaries of those who do the above mentioned tasks.  Felix thoughtfully provided references with sources so that you can read them.  He did note that the most useful citation (the Reider, 2011) is in German.

–           The benefit of the evaluation should be at least as high as its cost (Rieder, 2011)

–           “Rule of thumb”: 1 – 10% of the costs for a policy program (personnal communication from an administrator)

–           5 – 7 % of a program (Kellog Foundation, p. 54)

–           1 – 15 %of the total cost of a program (Rieder, 2011, 5 quotes in Table 5 p. 82)

–           0.5% of a program (EC, 2004, p. 32 ff.)

–           Up to 10% of a program (EC 2008, p. 47 ff.)



EC (2004) Evaluating EU activities and practical guide for the Commission services. Bruxelles.

EC (2008) EVALSED: The resource for the evaluation of socioeconomic development. Bruxelles. .

Kellogg Foundation.  (1984).  W. K. Kellogg Foundation Evaluation Handbook. <>.

Rieder S. (2011) Kosten von Evaluationen. LEGES 2011(1), 73 – 88.


Recognizing the value of your evaluation work, being able to put a dollar value to that work, and being able to communicate it helps build organizational capacity in evaluation.

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