Program Evaluation is NOT Your Job: What to Do Instead

Program Evaluation is NOT Your Job: What to Do Instead

with Maryfrances Porter, PhD

March 22 | 12:30-1:30 PM CT

While some larger nonprofits may collaborate with scientists to formally prove the organization impact, most nonprofit missions focus on the on-the-ground work. Although some nonprofits may receive capacity-building grants and hire an evaluation consultant, directing those resources to board development or strategic planning seems more common.

However, small- and medium-sized nonprofits are frequently asked to prove their impact, often requiring statistical data and comparison groups to demonstrate long-term impact, which falls into the domain of scientists. This can feel impossible for many organizations. I have learned that sustainable data systems and the confidence to tell impact stories are crucial. These impact stories move people to action, encouraging clients to achieve and funders to give.

Despite the need for tracking and telling actionable impact stories, there needs to be an established structure for what these stories should include or what information is necessary. Recent surveys show that less than 20% of organizations feel confident about collecting data, creating actions, or storytelling. Unsurprisingly, up to 33% of smaller nonprofits don’t meet their fundraising goals. 

During this session, participants will be introduced to the 3-step ImpactStory™ Strategy. The Strategy is practical, flexible, and sustainable, making tracking and telling impact stories accessible. Participants will leave this session understanding the Strategy. Specifically, they will learn:

  1. What must be clear about the impact nonprofits are working to achieve?
  2. How simple data collection and analysis can lead to confident data-driven decisions.
  3. The critical components of telling convincing impact stories.
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About the Presenter

After growing up in New Orleans, I received a BA from Emory University in 1996. During and after college, I worked in psychiatric and psychological research for seven years in labs in Atlanta and Denver (where my husband trained to become a master brewer!). I came to the University of Virginia in 1998 to get a PhD in Clinical and Community Psychology. In graduate school, I became deeply invested in supporting thriving people and communities, as well as with using data to advance social justice, equity, and returning power to those who have been disenfranchised.

In 2013, I launched Partnerships for Strategic Impact® with the mission of empowering small- and medium-sized nonprofits – and their funders – to track and tell powerful impact stories. I focus on building capacity in three areas: I help social sector leaders build customized structures, systems, and processes for data collection; I train staff in data analysis and storytelling; and I provide just the right amount of ongoing support to ensure long-term sustainability and success. Over the years, I have taught or worked one-on-one with hundreds of nonprofits and other social sector leaders in partnership. I am grateful for all these partnerships because everything I do today results from learning from these committed professionals and the people they serve.

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