Your organization may have a vision and a passion for the work you are doing in your community. Still, without measurable outcomes, it’s impossible to assess how effective your organization and programs are. Is your nonprofit organization making a difference? If so, how? How is the community impacted by your program activities? These are answers funders look for when they read your grant application. The ability to demonstrate program success is crucial when applying for grant funding, so how do you make the assessment? Impact measurement is needed so that changes can be made when necessary.
How Nonprofit Programs Impact the Community
Are you wondering if there’s still good in the world? Look at nonprofits’ work to help restore your faith in humanity. Nonprofits are driven by a passion to make our world a better, more compassionate place – one community, one project, one program at a time. And we need them. Desperately. Nonprofit organizations provide programs that influence our country by impacting our communities in 3 key ways:
Cultivation and Sustainability
Nonprofit organizations are the embodiment of human compassion. It’s easy and common to look around us at a broken world, full of broken systems and disenfranchised people, and wonder if genuine goodness really exists. Despite the odds, the needs, and the challenges, nonprofit organizations are driven by people who are deeply motivated by compassion and a genuine desire to make a positive difference in their communities. Nonprofits show us that the work is worthwhile and crucial to our social fabric and that something better is possible.
Nonprofit missions are effective because they often begin at the grassroots level. They understand that the ripple effect of global change begins with one person. And then another. And another. As these organizations work to engage their community members on an individual level and meet their unique needs, the “unseen” becomes “seen.” The disenfranchised become connected and empowered, and the community is positioned for growth.
As nonprofit involvement positions a community for strategic interventions to resolve problems, it also empowers and equips the individuals within it and gives them a presence and a voice. Because nonprofits care passionately about the people they serve, they are personally involved in the work for the people, with the people and by the people. Not only are they fostering relationships with whole communities, they are intimately familiar with the needs of the community as well as the best way to meet them, positioning them to represent and advocate for their communities effectively.
Is Impact Evaluation Really Helpful?
Yes, and here are five reasons why:
- Proves that the program is working
- Highlights the program’s benefits
- Demonstrates efficacy for participants
- Identifies key aspects of the program that are effective/ineffective
- Establishes consistency of program implementation
5 Keys for Successful Program Evaluation
Since funders want assurance that their contributions to your organization are actually making a difference, two critical questions to ask are: “What does success for our organization look like?” and “How do we get there?”
- Define the parameters of the assessment. Clearly identify the questions the program needs to answer.
- Design the evaluation. What measurement tools will you use? How will the data be collected and organized? Who will be involved in the assessment?
- Conduct the assessment. Set a realistic time frame for your program assessment. Clearly define and communicate who and what will be involved in the assessment process and how it will be carried out.
- Analyze the results. Did the assessment answer the key questions? Did any other questions or needs come to light?
- Implement the changes. Now that your program has been evaluated and the data collected and analyzed, it’s time to implement the changes that will make your program and your organization as a whole more effective.
Time to Shine!
Now that you have evaluated your organization’s programming, measured performance, and planned an implementation and timeline strategy, you have a strong foundation from which to fundraise. Not only can you clearly identify the specific needs of your community, but you can also answer that need with targeted programming, giving grantmakers the confidence they need to know that they are partnering with an effective organization to create change in the communities they love.
National Council of Nonprofits (2023). Evaluation and Measurement Outcomes. Retrieved from https://www.councilofnonprofits.org/running-nonprofit/fundraising-and-resource-development/evaluation-and-measurement-outcomes
The Bridgespan Group (2016, January 15). Program Evaluation. Retrieved from https://www.bridgespan.org/insights/program-evaluation