Good Day and Happy Thursday!
I hope your day is going well and the month of September has been kind to your nonprofit or small business. As we chug along through the 4th quarter of 2015, this is a good time to go over your programmatic goals and targets you’ve set for yourself early in the year. But this also a good time to start preparing for grant cycles that will be coming up for FY16-17. I wrote a piece a few weeks ago discussing “Grant Writing” and how you can start to become proficient with it but there’s something I want to highlight from that piece because it is one of the pinnacle points of successful grant writers and sustainable organizations…EVALUATION PRACTICES.
Program evaluation and showing your funders/stakeholders how well your program is doing is paramount. It is one of the key steps most start-ups miss or do not spend enough time cultivating.If you want funders to grant you money, they say “SHOW ME SOMETHING.” If you want the county to notice your contribution to cost saving measures, they will say “SHOW ME SOMETHING.” If you want to prove that your program works, people will ultimately say “SHOW ME SOMETHING.” The SOMETHING is the EVALUATIONS.
Demonstrating effectiveness is now being asked of nonprofits, whether big, small, old or new (Fine, Thayer, & Coghan, 2011). A nonprofit will not be able to attract viable resources if they do not show credible evidence that a program works. How the program works is entirely up to the agency but there are a few things you need to pay attention to:
- Make sure you are PRE and POST testing participants: You cannot show data if you have none to show…
- Create evaluation areas that you can actually evaluate: Do not attempt to collect data that your program will never gather.
- If you can show cost saving measures in the data, do it: Nothing do funders love more than a program that can save money and show how it impacts cyclical events.
- Stakeholders matter: Showcase information that is important to those that are important to you.
- Keep the spotlight on!: Once you have great data, show it, show it, show it! Then collect more data and then show that! Squeaky wheels get the oil…
Evaluation and agency performance go hand in hand. By documenting your program or agencies successes, you stand a better chance at attracting long-term funding, vital support and community buy-in. Evaluations also can be used as a planning guide. By knowing where you are weak/strong, you can develop fundraising ideas, allocate resources or enhance program delivery services. The possibilities are endless. But you must do it. Nothing counteracts the “SHOW ME SOMETHING” statement like hard, solid data!
If you need help creating pre/post tests, data evaluation or internal/external development, contact JSW Media Group (http://www.jswmediagroup.com/). Our nonprofit consultants can help you out. As always, thank you for reading and I wish you success!
Keith Cradle (@mrcradle on IG/Twitter)