grants, nonprofit development, startup nonprofits

What data does my nonprofit need?

You have an eloquent proposal, an innovative program, and an established reputation, but public response has been lackluster, or you are coming up short in your grant requests. Why?

You need DATA – and it needs to tell a STORY.


As the competition for available funds and attention continues to increase, it is essential to prove your organization’s success. Get the measurable results you need to enhance your proposals and public image through a well developed data collection and evaluation plan. You know you are doing great work. But it is important to use data to tell the world your story in a fresh and compelling way. Here’s how to get started in devising a data collection and evaluation plan:


Get the data

Step One – justify the need:
Conduct a web and literature review of existing research. Find relevant facts and research findings that support the need for your cause.

Step Two – specify goals: Identify SMART goals for your program

S = specific      M = measurable      A = actionable      R = realistic       T = time-constrained

Step 3 – decide what you will use to measure​ those goals
Once you have defined SMART goals, decide what tools you will use to measure each one. Common tools can include quantitative measures (ex: surveys, evaluation forms) and qualitative (ex: interviews, focus groups, observations). For the best picture of what is really going on, use a mix of both quantitative and qualitative evaluation tools (ex: conduct a survey AND a few classroom observations).

To keep your thoughts organized, I suggest using a table such as this, with a SMART example:

Goal Outcome Tool to measure

Timeline

Increase awareness of STEM careers 80% or more of participants will show increased awareness of STEM careers program survey (comparison of pre-and post results) survey administered at beginning and conclusion of each program; analyzed within 1 week
goal 2
goal 3
goal 4

Grant applications are most successful when you can prove that your programs work. And the only way to do that is with data 🙂

Stay tuned for my next post, which will give ideas for using your data to share your successes.

 

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grants, nonprofit development, writing

How to Write a Grant Evaluation Plan in Three Simple Steps

Even if the prospective funder does not explicitly ask for one, you need an evaluation plan. Whether big or small, every project and every nonprofit organization needs to show that a clear plan exists to measure the effectiveness of its programs.

To write a good evaluation plan:

  1. Name specific things that will be measured. Examples could include student confidence levels, knowledge regarding computer science, or time spent with a certain resource.
  2. Describe how those things will be measured. In other words, name the data collection tools that will be used to measure what you defined in number 1. Common tools include tracker charts, surveys, interviews, and focus groups.
  3. Explain how the data will be used. This is the most important part. Once you have the data, what will you do with it? Why?

The degree of detail to which these concepts will be delineated will be driven by the requirements of the funder. For example, National Science Foundation proposals require in-depth evaluation plans that are often several pages long. Conversely, smaller foundations often ask how you will measure results, which can be answered with the above three questions within a paragraph.

As the competition for available grants continues to increase, a solid evaluation plan will go a long way in setting you apart from the competition and building trust with the potential funder.