Evaluation for Non-Evaluators

You believe you’re doing good work, but do you have the data to demonstrate it? Or if you’re not sure your programs are working as you’d hoped, how can you tell – and more importantly – what can you improve?  

Kathleen Brady
Kathleen Brady

Program evaluation helps you make sure your organization is having the impact you intended.  We hosted “Evaluation for Non-Evaluators” to help nonprofits who run programs, funders who invest in programs, and anyone considering implementing programs strengthen their evaluation skills. Kathleen Brady, PhD, CEO of Community Research Group, presented on evaluation models, how to collect and use basic evaluation data, and how to use evaluation to make programs better. The session kicked off our Energizing Your Mission series and was generously sponsored by Duke Energy. 

“Evaluation for Non-Evaluators” highlighted why evaluation is so important. It’s not just about getting funding; it’s about showing the value of what you’re doing, figuring out what works best, and making sure you’re actually helping the community.

Dr. Brady broke down some evaluation basics, like the difference between outputs and outcomes, and how to make your data more compelling. She talked about using both numbers and stories to get a full picture of what’s going on, and introduced Results Based Accountability™, which is all about measuring how much of a difference your actions are making.

She pointed out how evaluation data is crucial for things like pitching new projects, keeping track of progress, and seeing where there might be gaps in services. Participants learned that there is a wide array of sources for data and how to make that data really stand out by framing it positively and showing the whole story.

Dr. Brady covered tools like surveys and interviews for getting deeper insights from the community and program participants, and she gave tips on how to make sense of all that qualitative data. Overall, having a solid plan from the get-go can help you discern what it is you want to understand, how to measure it, and how to learn and adapt based on those measurements.


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