Class of 2019
Please join us in congratulating the Class of 2019 graduating from the Minority Executive Leadership program. Pariss Coleman of The Andersons presided over certificate presentations.
3 Common Program Evaluation Mistakes
Program evaluation is an essential nonprofit activity and competency. Good program evaluation helps nonprofits improve their work, better serve their clients, tell a compelling story of impact, and build support. However, it’s hard to prioritize program evaluation when there is so much to do to just make a program happen. Here are three common program evaluation mistakes I see all the time.
Doing it for the grant
Grant support is vital for nonprofits. At the same time, nonprofits know that they must guard against “mission creep” - doing programs that you might not if you weren’t receiving funding. Mission creep is a product of a reactive culture. Being reactive helps you in the short term, but hurts you in the long term. Likewise, I often see what I’ll call “evaluation creep” - doing evaluation only because the funder requires it. Evaluation creep hurts nonprofits. When we feel like we are doing evaluation only because it’s required, we view evaluation as a waste of time and resources. Being proactive with evaluation has huge benefits for nonprofits. When you identify the questions, goals, and outcomes that you care about, your evaluation strategy is meaningful and valuable to you.
Starting with the survey
Surveys are the evaluation tool most commonly used by nonprofits. Too often, I see nonprofits try to write surveys without a clear understanding of what the survey should be investigating. They haven’t done the initial proactive work of identifying the program’s goals or outcomes. Without a plan for what the survey should be investigating, writing the survey is difficult for the organization, and the end result is poor. Poor surveys are frustrating for survey takers and produce low value data that isn’t used by the organization. Much better to start with an evaluation plan. The more time you spend planning your evaluation, the easier it is to write the survey (or interview or focus group) and use the results.
Forgetting to learn
Evaluation is wasted if it’s not used. Often, a lot of work goes into evaluating a program—writing surveys, collecting responses, analyzing data, reporting results—and the result is a PDF attachment to a grantor. That’s one way to use the results of the evaluation, but an easy opportunity has been missed. An organization can learn so much by simply getting together, reviewing the results of the evaluation, and discussing, “What can we learn from this?” “Where could we use these results?” and “What are some new questions we have because of this data?” Spending time together interpreting the results and identifying next steps makes any evaluation, proactive or reactive, meaningful to the organization.
Have you evaluated your programs recently? Al brings us Practical Program Evaluation on June 19, 2019. Join us to discover how to assess programs based on experience, outcome and impact!
Al Onkka is a principal consultant at Aurora Consulting, a Minnesota-based firm serving nonprofits. He works at the leadership level to help nonprofits plan for the future and evaluate their impact. Al has worked in the field of evaluation, promoting data-based decision-making and organizational learning since 2009.
Without the right tools and resources, you won’t be able to raise much more money than you’re raising right now – let alone all the money you’ll need to have a successful capital campaign.
3 Must-Have Tools to Lead a Successful Campaign
If you want to lead a successful capital campaign, here are three tools you shouldn’t proceed without.
1. Gift Range Chart
The gift range chart tells you exactly how many gifts and of what size you need to achieve your goal.
As a general guide, your first gift should be approximately 20% of your campaign goal. That lead gift would also be the amount reflected in a donor recognition plan to name a building, for example.
It’s important to note, the first 10 to 20 gifts should get you halfway (or more) to your goal.
Capital campaigns often follow the 80/20 rule, which is when 20% of your donors give 80% or more of the dollars. This generally equates to the first ten plus donors getting you past the halfway mark to your goal.
Yet, while the gift range chart you generate may look great on paper, the next tool is where the rubber really meets the road.
2. Depth Chart
The depth chart works hand-in-hand with the gift range chart and matches individual gift amounts with specific potential donors. If you can identify multiple, specific donors for each gift you need on the gift range chart, you are likely to lead a successful campaign.
For example, let’s say you need a lead gift of $500,000. The depth chart is where you would list two or three people you think CAN and MIGHT give your campaign half a million dollars.
In other words, these are not “wishful thinking” names, like Oprah or Bill Gates. They are names of people who live in your community and support your work (even at a much lower level).
3. Campaign Policies
Campaign policies may not seem like a traditional tool, but they certainly help guide your campaign and make your life easier, so they are most definitely an important tool.
You campaign policies should specifically state things like:
When developing your own campaign policies, ask yourself the following questions:
Are you ready to run a successful Capital Campaign? Join us on May 22, 2019 when Amy presents Capital Campaigns: 10 Critical Tools for Success.
Amy Eisenstein, ACFRE, is a consultant, author, speaker, and the creator of online fundraising resources including Mastering Major Gifts and the Capital Campaign Toolkit.
Your nonprofit has a healthy balance sheet and has ended every year in the black. You continue to have success recruiting highly skilled staff and board members who add value to the organization. You deliver proven outcomes with an evidenced-based approach. Donor retention rates are high. Philanthropic and government funders often cite your programs as among the best in your city.
What’s not to like in this picture?
For many nonprofits the truth is that while you’re doing well, your constituents aren’t. Pick the indicator. Whether it’s hunger, domestic violence, education outcomes, individual health, infant mortality, or neighborhood violence, in many communities these indicators are headed in the wrong direction. Needs are growing and you have plateaued in revenue, in numbers served, and in outcomes. It’s clear that you aren’t fully achieving your mission. Needs in your community are outpacing your ability to meet those needs.
It’s time for some candid conversations. But where to begin? Consider the generative conversations you can have with your staff and board members.
It’s out of these conversations that the next question often becomes – who else can we work with in our community and how can we work with them to leapfrog to a new level of service and program delivery? How can we more comprehensively address complex community issues?
It may be forming a coalition to change policies that disadvantage your constituents. It may be an arrangement to share back office services to create greater efficiency in operations. It may be designing and implementing an innovative new program with a like-minded partner. It may be merging with an organization that allows you to provide services and programs that are more comprehensive, have more depth, and/or create a more holistic service continuum.
Smart nonprofit leaders are increasingly turning to collaboration, alliances, and strategic restructurings to fuel organizational growth, remove barriers, and create greater efficiency.
Are you ready to take on this leadership challenge with some candid conversations? Join us when Jo comes to Toledo on March 26, 2019. Learn More Here.
Jo DeBolt is a Partner with La Piana Consulting. She works with nonprofit and foundation clients to help them solve their most significant and complex strategic challenges.
Ensuring nonprofits in northwest Ohio and southeastern Michigan have the information and resources to operate in an efficient and effective manner.
LEAN Six Sigma
Minority Executive Leadership
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