As colleges around the country are opening their doors for fall semester, many nonprofits will turn their attention to recruiting student and faculty researchers to assist with special projects. There is no shortage of areas in nonprofit management, governance, fundraising, marketing, and operations where representatives of higher education may be able to provide assistance to nonprofits. Program evaluation is one area where student and faculty researchers may be in high demand. Nonprofits can often benefit from bringing in outside experts to assist in developing a program evaluation strategy for the whole organization or a specific program area.
As you engage experts, whether from a university or other source, keep in mind that the Standards for Excellence: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector® encourages all nonprofits to “have defined, cost-effective procedures for evaluating, both qualitatively and quantitatively, its programs and projects in relation to its mission.” In addition, “the evaluations should be candid, be used to strengthen the effectiveness of the organization and, when necessary, be used to make programmatic changes.”
It is vitally important to remember that an organization’s program evaluation efforts should circle back to assessing the programs and projects in relation to the organization’s own mission. And while it might be cost effective to engage an outside expert, always consider whether your evaluation goals can be met. If your organization finds that the assistance offered by an outsider suits their needs more than your nonprofit’s needs, it may be best to keep looking for another expert to assist.
Did you know? The Standards for Excellence® Educational Resource Packet, “Program Evaluation” 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. Not a member? Join now!