Last week, a group of American Evaluation Association (AEA) members released new results from a multi-year investigation into the state of evaluation among nonprofits nationwide. The story they tell about the relationship of American nonprofits and evaluation is very interesting. You can read the full report here. Among the highlights:
- Of the 546 nonprofit organizations surveyed, 90% had evaluated some aspect of their work in the previous year, but only 28% exhibited promising evaluation capacity or behaviors.
- All (100%) of organizations that engaged in evaluation used their findings primarily for internal reporting purposes (to funders, boards of directors, and stakeholders). Less than half used evaluation findings to report to clients (47%).
- A majority (70%) of surveyed nonprofits spent less than 5% of their organizational budgets on evaluation.
- Among a possible 10 priorities that included areas like financial management and communications, evaluation was ranked the second lowest by nonprofits. (The lowest ranked priority was research.)
At ACET, we understand the value of evaluation for nonprofits, not just because we are evaluators, but also because we have helped nonprofits build capacity and implement evaluation as a greater part of their success. We make this relationship more meaningful through:
Training and capacity building: We are happy to train and guide you and your staff through your evaluation, and we stay available throughout the project should you have any questions about the process. We want you to come away from the evaluation experience feeling confident and empowered to perform evaluation tasks on your own, if you so choose, and to have a full understanding of what evaluation is and is not about.
Involving staff at every step: We value your organization’s resources, talent, and input. That’s why we want to meet with you at the beginning and throughout the evaluation process to understand your goals, to get your feedback about every stage of the project, and to answer any questions you might have. The ability to steer the evaluation always remains in your control, and your voice will always be heard.
Assistance with reporting: You may have specific and detailed plans for communicating the data gathered during the evaluation process. Or, you may be unsure how to make your data available to your clients or stakeholders in the most effective and useful ways. At ACET, we are able to help you determine what format(s) will best meet your needs and goals, and to create professional, influential reporting materials for web and print – whether your audience is your community, your board, or the federal government.
We know these elements help nonprofit organizations achieve success – whether that be in the form of renewed or increased funding streams, a clarified vision for future program expansion, or answers to burning questions – because we have been instrumental to the success of many nonprofits. You can find out more about these successes by viewing the Projects page of our website. If you are a nonprofit decision maker unsure of how evaluation fits into your work, let us help you to explore the possibilities.