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Grant strategies to build nonprofit capacity
Is your organisation ready to undertake evaluation of your program outcomes and impacts?
This quiz provides insights into your nonprofit's strengths and weaknesses in evaluation, and next steps to address them.
Great – your leaders’ engagement with evaluation is a vital part of being a learning organisation, and will stand you in great stead in undertaking evaluation and in communicating with funders.
Talk to us about our in-house board and senior management education sessions. We can provide tailored sessions about the importance and value of evaluation, and its ever increasing relevance to grant-seeking.
Fantastic! Your program logic is an essential step in designing a monitoring and evaluation plan.
Program logics are essential in assisting project planning and evaluation design.
Your program logic describes the inputs required to implement the strategies that are required to deliver the outputs, outcomes and predicted impact. It also identifies any assumptions and theories that underpin the way the program is expected to function. It tells the story of how the program will work.
Talk to the Strategic Grants evaluation team about a half-day on-site Program Logic Design Workshop.
3. What information does your organisation generally use to determine project need?
A. Organisational information (ie, feedback from beneficiaries, internal research, staff feedback etc)
B. Data from other nonprofits and/or government
C. Academic research on similar interventions or beneficiary groups
Well done! Your organisation has a strong process for identifying project need, and will be able to provide plenty of demonstrable evidence to back up communications about needs to funders.
Your organisation has some processes for identifying project need.
To strengthen this further, look at providing evidence from all three of the above sources.
Look at collecting needs or demographic data about your potential beneficiaries from other sources like government statistics or other nonprofits’ publications.
Collect global evidence of the need for the type of intervention you are proposing, and the evidence that the type of intervention you are proposing works.
Use your organisation’s own knowledge from data collected from your organisation’s projects, beneficiaries and staff. Nonprofits are experts in the causes they serve and can provide valuable evidence. An example of information to collect is the gap between number of people served and requests for services that cannot be met with current resources.
Strategic Grants can provide a Needs Analysis to ensure your projects are underpinned by evidence.
Providing evidence of the need for your project is essential in funding applications.
Understanding ofthe need you are trying to address is critical to the success of projects. What problem do you want to solve? This normally involves some type of “needs assessment” to determine and address needs, or "gaps" between current conditions and desired conditions or "wants".Defining 'need' is an essential starting placein project development.
Your analysis of the project need should include:
- Your organisation’s own knowledge from data collected from your organisation’s projects, beneficiaries and staff.- An examination of local or sectoral data (from councils, government, other nonprofits working in similar sectors etc).- Global evidence from academia about need and evidence thetype of intervention you are proposing works.
Strategic Grants can provide a Needs Analysis to ensure your projects are underpinned by evidence, as well as evaluation frameworks to help you capture outcomes data from your projects.
Your organisation has good processes for identifying project need.
To strengthen this further, look at collecting all three types of needs data and evidence, from organisational, to sectoral, to global.
Great! It’s essential to start planning for evaluation during the project planning stage so you are collecting the right data from the start.
It’s essential to start planning for evaluation during the project planning stage so you are collecting the right data from the start, and to ensure you aren’t scrambling for information at the end of the project, or even worse, you are unable to provide the funder with the data they were expecting.
Strategic Grants can work with your organisation to design evaluation plans and methods to capture meaningfuldata on your projects. Check out our services including Pre and Post Evaluation Survey, Program Evaluation, and Customised Evaluation.
Great – It’s important your project budget contains the full cost to your organisation of running your projects, and that includes the cost of evaluation. The majority of funders are happy to fund evaluation costs.
It’s important your project budget accounts for the full cost to your organisation of running your projects, and that includes the cost of evaluation.
Planning for evaluation, collecting data and undertaking analysis and reporting takes time. A general suggestion is that evaluation can cost around 5% of the program budget, but costs should be based on the estimated hours required to do the work, and your organisation’s capacity to do it.
If your organisation doesn’t have the capacity to collect and analyse data internally, make sure you get quotes from external evaluators before you submit a grant application, so you can include it in your project budget.
Project buget tip: Remember, the total cost to deliver your project does not necessarily equal the amount you are requesting from a funder. You may have other funders providing partial funding, your organisation may be able to contribute, or you may have other support including in-kind.
Great, you can use SMART KPIs to provide meaningful feedback on your project about what’s working and what’s not so you can make the decision to pivot when projects aren’t meeting targets.
In order to provide meaningful feedback on your project about what’s working and what’s not you need to be setting indicators of what success is expected to look like. These indicators need to be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound).
Strategic Grants can work with you to identify targets needed to: measure success, track progress and be able to pivot when projects aren’t meeting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
Making sure project delivery staff are educated about the need for evaluation and are following a timetable and plan for systematic data collection is essential to undertaking evaluation.
Good communications between everyone involved in project delivery, evaluating and final reporting are vital both for the organisation’s own learning from the data captured, and for funder stewardship, to ensure project updates and any deviations from the original plan, are communicated to fundersin a timely manner.
It’s essential project delivery staff are briefed about the need for evaluation, and about funders’ expectations for final reporting.Good communications between everyone involved in project delivery, evaluating and final reporting are vital both for the organisation’s own learning from the data captured, and for funder stewardship to ensure project updates and deviations from the original plan are communicated to funders in a timely manner.
If you don’t have processes, a timetable and plan for systematic data collection to share with your project delivery staff, talk to Strategic Grants about the evaluation solutions we can provide.
You have a great approach to collecting data!
Make sure you’re making use of it by putting communication processes around sharing data insights with those who are making decisions on your projects. And that you are looking at disseminating your learnings more widely to benefit the wider sector.
Great! You’re collecting baseline data so you can examine the change that has occurred through your project.
To strengthen your approach, you might look at including a data collection point in the mid-steps of your project so that you can assess what’s working and what’s not and make changes to your project if needed.
When you’re only collecting data at the end of a project, it’s harder to gather data about the change that occurred as a result of your project.
To strengthen your approach,look at starting to collect pre-intervention data in the form of a survey, or interview and comparing it with post-intervention data collected in the same way. Even better, have some form of data collection about the change you’re measuring in the mid-steps of your project so you can look at what’s working and what’s not, and make changes if needed.
Talk to us about designing a pre and post intervention evaluation tool.
Ensuring documented processes and IT systems are in place is essential for the ongoing sustainability and validity of evaluation in your organisation. When data is collected systematically rather than ad hoc, it provides a much more accurate and clear picture of what is happening, giving your organisation the insights it needs to operate efficiently and effectively.
If you haven’t already, consider embedding evaluation processes and systems further by putting position KPIs on data collection, maintenance and timely analysis.
Ensuring documented processes and IT systems for data collection are in place is vital for effective evaluation.
When data is collected systematically rather than ad hoc, it provides a much more accurate and clear picture of what is happening.
If you don’t have capacity in house to design a process for systematic collection of data, talk to Strategic Grants about how we can assist. We can also provide analysis of data to ensure your organisation has the insights it needs to operate programs efficiently and effectively.
Great! It’s important that your data is stored in a secure system, to protect any sensitive information and maintain the privacy of evaluation participants. Any sensitive data should be stored with limited, password protected access. Where data is considered sensitive, a code is utilised in place of names, witha separate password protected file containing the cipher.
Having a system for storing your data is essential, so that you know where the data should be filed, how securely certain types of information must be stored, and so you know where to find the data if you need to go back and look at it! Any sensitive data should be stored with limited, password protected access. Where data is considered sensitive, a code is utilised in place of names, with a separate password protected file containing the cipher.
Looking at evaluation and where it sits in the program cycle below we can see that evaluation results and learnings are intended to be integrated back into programs to improve performance and also help to demonstrate need for future projects.
It’s action research learning, helping you identify needs for the next iteration of your project or a whole new program area while you are running your project.
Not only does this knowledge help your organisation learn from the difference that your work brings, it is of more interest to funders including government agencies.
Get in touch to discuss how we can help set useful indicators to monitor your projects, analyse your data to provide insights to inform program improvements, and improve decision making processes around program changes.
Brilliant, you're using evaluation data as it should be - to improve the design and reach of programs, and grow your social impact. Having strong processes (a documented who, what, when, where, how, why) around your program monitoring and evaluation, and program improvements ensures all data you collect is put to good use! Great job!
Strategic Grants' evaluation services are customised to meet the needs and challenges of each organisation.
If you'd like to discuss your nonprofit's evaluation needs, whether it be capacity building, training or outsourcing evaluative work, please contact us.
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