There are any number of driving forces behind an organization’s decision to conduct a program evaluation, but to get the most out of your resources and the evaluation process, it’s important to determine the ‘whys’ before you get started. To help you accomplish this, we’ve compiled the top six reasons organizations should conduct an evaluation. Through this ‘check-all-that-apply’ process, you may discover additional ways that you will be able to use the data and insights that result from your evaluation, and knowing how that information will be utilized in the future—in advance of implementation—allows for much more productive use of your stakeholders’ time.

1. Quantify how your program has changed lives and circumstances.

You hear all the time that your program is changing lives, but how many lives have you changed? The ability to quantify the degree to which lives and circumstances have changed is one measure of success that just can’t be calculated using anecdotes—you need to quantify the successful outcomes your program or organization is generating. From there, we help clients drill down to the more qualitative data, to identify the program’s attributes and/or series of services that make up successful outcomes, so that your program can become even more successful in the future.

2. Monitor the success of the program over time, where there might be opportunities for improvement, and how to prioritize these opportunities.

The environments in which social sector organizations focus their energy is in a state of constant flux. Having an understanding of instances where people might be slipping through the cracks or what external factors might be causing fluctuation in your ability to achieve successful outcomes—these must be known before they can be adequately addressed. And having the ability to quantify the various factors responsible for the fluctuations can help you prioritize and address the most critical needs first.

3. Understand how well your program is utilizing resources.

Are the successful outcomes you’re achieving commiserate with the financial investment you and your funders are making in your program? For many purpose-driven organizations, alignment between the organization’s mission and how that mission is accomplished guides the delivery of organization’s services. But as your beneficiaries’ needs change, could the resources your program uses be put to better use? These questions should be asked through the lens of the organization, and the broader social sector community. For example, is your program now one of many similar programs in your community? Is there a greater need that currently isn’t being met by any organization in your community?

4. Justify the expansion of an initiative.

Your program is seeing so much success, but there simply isn’t enough to go around to meet the growing need in your community. In this scenario, an organization may realign its existing resources within the organization, or devote more effort to raising funds to expand the program. Measurement Resources’ team members are experts in delivering in-depth and unbiased program evaluations, which provide the insights needed to make data-driven decision-making clear and simple for our clients.

5. Use data to tell your social impact story.

Data is one of two tools that every organization ought to keep in its toolbox. The other? Storytelling. The combination of the two—data and storytelling—is extraordinarily powerful. Purpose-driven organizations can use this combo in a multitude of ways, to celebrate how the organization is delivering on its mission promise through the delivery of its unique programs and services.

6. Advocate for continued financial support and position your organization to win new sources of funding.

Funders are increasingly requiring that the nonprofits they support hire external evaluators to prove that they are in fact achieving what they set out to do, and to ensure that the funding is being put to the best use possible. In particular for community and corporate foundations, whose interest can lie in making an impact in a specific vein of the social sector (such as hunger or homelessness), your program’s outcomes data may be aggregated across all of the organizations the foundation is funding. So organizations can be both in direct competition for increased funding, and also part of a community of organizations funded by a foundation, all working toward a common goal.

Having an independent evaluation partner can help you manage your performance over time, so that you can implement continuous improvement efforts that will result in more successful outcomes. And the more and better successful outcomes you’re able to generate, the more successful you’ll be at advocating for continued (or even increased) support from your funder. Your organization will also become more competitive when accessing new sources of funding.

Measurement Resources Can Help You Clarify Your Goals

As the external evaluator of choice for social sector organizations across the nation, Measurement Resources can help you clarify your goals in advance of implementing your next program evaluation. Through a facilitated process, we can help you uncover your whys, identify various stakeholder audiences and their unique priorities, and other program attributes, all of which are crucial to your program’s long-term success.

Contact us today to learn how we can help you with your next program evaluation.