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Nonprofit Tips & Hints: Developing Evaluation Methods, Part I

Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation
Published on October 14, 2015

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Intentional evaluation maximizes mission impact.

As world issues evolve, and donor interests shift, the nonprofit community must adapt.  Grantmakers, foundations and donors are becoming increasingly strategic when distributing philanthropic dollars. Just as a nonprofit organization drives towards a mission, funders drive their own objectives.  They select organizations and projects that align with their unique missions and the impact they seek to create.  This is one of many reasons nonprofits should adopt strategic planning and data-driven evaluation processes.

The North Tahoe-Truckee region has hundreds of nonprofit organizations.  Most of our nonprofit community is comprised of smaller organizations with big missions, which means they are often understaffed and overstretched.  Passion and commitment drive forward momentum, but slowing down to establish strategic planning and evaluation methods can often rank low in priority when the mission goal is always over the next ridgeline.

By defining the who, what, how, and when of a program, you can track these criteria with applicable metrics. Developing and adhering to an evaluation process shows you what is and isn’t working within your organization.  You and your funders cannot afford to waste valuable resources on programs or elements that don’t serve your missions.  If a well-intentioned approach is simply adopted without evaluating it against pre-determined criteria, the program’s perceived success or failure is merely subjective.

When your nonprofit finds a funder whose objectives align with its own, this data-driven evidence can help you demonstrate your commitment to a shared cause.  Couple quantifiable metrics with a strong, authentic story of your nonprofit’s impact, and your organization is taken from a commendable idea to a solid investment on the table of a grants committee.

This is Part I of a two-part series. Next week, we address how to establish evaluation criteria.  If your nonprofit seeks to understand the evaluation process more in-depth, send a board member to the TTCF Board Governance Series

Read Part II  – Evaluation Methods