Evaluating to learn: Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can

1 Oct

“You don’t make the hog fatter by weighing it.”  This Midwestern farm proverb describes a particular type of nonprofit evaluation that’s the focus for a new workshop I’m delivering soon, at:

This particular type of evaluation goes by several related names: formative evaluation, actionable measurement, managing to outcomes and, most commonly, performance measurement. The distinctive feature of this type of evaluation is that it’s not primarily focused on proving you’ve done a good job to some external party. Rather, it’s intended to help you improve as you implement; to learn and make course corrections along the way. Performance improvement evaluation about far more than data collection; it’s about how to decide what data is most relevant, and how to ensure you use it systematically to drive decisions. Importantly, it’s something you can learn to do in stages by, to quote Arthur Ashe, starting with where you are, using what you have, and doing what you can, one step at a time.

Being able to do effective performance measurement really does matter, not only for telling our stories to funders and supporters, but for truly knowing that the work we dedicate ourselves to is making a difference, that the causes we care about are truly being addressed. What’s more powerful motivation than that to get started?

Check back soon for more information on what’s covered.