Thinking back to the second grade, I recall the day I met my ultimate goal – to achieve perfect attendance. My name was plastered on the school’s front bulletin board with many others that had managed to pull themselves out of bed each morning, sometimes going to lengths to persuade parents that they were well enough to go to school. Perfect attendance was a symbol of achievement for many of us. But it was not an indicator of how much we had learned. The grades from the pop quizzes and scores on standardized tests ultimately revealed how much we had learned and indicated whether or not we should progress to the next grade. Checking students’ attendance was simply one of the school’s mechanisms for monitoring students.
Monitoring is an essential, ongoing process involving collecting information related to your organization, including program activities (such as how many times you provided a service) and relevant community statistics (such as how the rate of smoking has changed among teens in your county). However, nonprofits must always strive to evaluate our programs for effectiveness by measuring the benefits or changes in individuals or populations during or after participating in our programs. In other words, what impact is your program making and how close are you to achieving your mission? These can be more difficult questions to answer. But the Standards for Excellence® Code emphasizes comprehensive evaluation as an important tool for being accountable to the public.
Did you know? The Standards for Excellence® Educational Resource Packet, “Program Evaluation,” includes a discussion on program evaluation and explains various approaches to outcomes measurement and data collection techniques. The packet is free and available to Standards for Excellence Institute® members. It is available through the members only section of our website. Hard copies are also available upon request.