Posts Tagged ‘measurement’

Find answers to nonprofit measurement questions in new e-book by Katie Delahaye Paine

Measurement 101 for Nonprofits eBook Released by Paine Publishing

Practical handbook by the co-author of Measuring the Networked Nonprofit

Katie Paine, co-author with Beth Kanter of the award-winning book, Measuring the Networked NonprofitUsing Data to Change the World, has released an eBook  designed to serve as the practical handbook for any nonprofit wanting to become a data-informed organization.

Paine wrote the book in response to feedback she has received since Measuring the Networked Nonprofit was first published. “Since our book came out, I’ve been getting questions from nonprofits about how to make measurement a reality, and how to implement good metrics.  I’ve been accumulating those questions and my answers for the past few years and the result is this eBook,” said Paine. “Things are moving so fast in the measurement world, we chose to put out an electronic handbook so we can update it as new tools and techniques are released.”

Buyers of the eBook may also join Paine’s subscriber-exclusive monthly Measurement Hour in which she answers any measurement questions her readers have.

Measurement 101 for Nonprofits provides practical, detailed guidance on how nonprofits can become data-informed organizations. It covers everything from a simple checklist to begin the measurement process to detailed guidance on how to analyze results. Other topics include:

·        Seven tips to help you understand your data

·        How to budget for measurement (including 6 ways to measure if you have no budget)

·        Understanding and measuring the different levels of engagement

·        Criteria for selecting the right vendors, tools, and metrics

Measurement 101 for Nonprofits is available for $101 and can be purchased by visiting: http://painepublishing.com/measurement-mall/

Paine Publishing, LLC is a New Hampshire-based consulting firm founded by Katie Delahaye Paine in 2013. Its mission is to train and advise individuals and organizations on how to measure their public relations, social media, marketing, and communications efforts. Her company also publishes The Measurement Advisor, the world’s only newsletter dedicated to expert advice, how-to articles, and industry news for communications professionals.

See also:

Measuring the Networked Nonprofit

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Creating a new habit: Incorporating program evaluation into your daily operations

You are already busy enough. In fact, you’re busy running your programs. You don’t want to steal time away from actually doing the work and spend it on evaluation. Let’s face it: evaluation takes staff time, some expertise and money.

At the same time, you know that evaluation is at the very least a necessary evil. I’ve been hearing this comment repeatedly, “More and more funders are demanding information about outcomes, not just outputs.” And, in your heart of hearts, you know it can be a force for good if you use it to improve your program.

So, what to do? Simply start asking yourself two key questions on a regular basis. For any and all of your programs, new or ongoing, ask yourself:

What are we trying to achieve with this program?

What will I see and hear that will indicate to me whether we’re achieving what we want to achieve?

Let’s take an example from my home life. If I were planning a yard sale and I asked myself the first key question (What did I want to achieve?), I would tell you that I wanted to

a) get rid of all my useless stuff,

b) make a little spending money,

c) accomplish (a) and (b) without driving myself nuts and wearing myself out in the process.

If you then asked me the second key question (What would I see and hear that would indicate that I was achieving my desired outcomes?), I would say that at the end of the day, I would see an empty yard and a full cash box, and I would not be exhausted from the process. As far as quantifiable outcomes, I might tell you that 80% of my stuff would be gone from the yard and there would be $50 in the cash box.

So, what is the significance of these two key questions, and why are they so powerful when it comes to incorporating program evaluation into your day-to-day operations? Simply because program evaluation is, above all, more than using surveys and interviews and focus groups to measure outputs, outcomes and impacts. Program evaluation is a mindset. Program evaluation is a manner of thinking in evaluative terms. When you start asking yourself about achievements and predicting what you will see and hear that will help you understand your achievements, you are thinking about–-no, you are actually doing–program evaluation.

At this point you may be wondering, “What good is a mindset when my funders are asking for numbers and touching stories about how we are changing lives? And more numbers?”

There are two advantages of having and practicing a mindset:

Without it, program evaluation is pure tedium, and besides, you’re probably doing it wrong and thus wasting your resources.

With a mindset of evaluative thinking, you are on the right track to the reliable numbers and valid touching stories that your funders want.

To start practicing right away, ask yourself the two key questions in the following situations:

at a staff meeting as the season’s work begins.

at a board meeting when considering which program(s) to cut and which to grow.

with a funder who shows you an RFP for a potential program which may be a good fit for your organization.

with your colleagues in social situations while you’re brainstorming ways to change the world for the better.

by yourself on a weekend when you can’t help wondering why a particular program feels stale and another one animates you whenever you think about it.

I guarantee that if you begin asking yourself these questions on a regular basis (this means at least a couple of times each week), evaluation practices will naturally follow. Without any additional drudgery on your part, you’ll find yourself doing things like…

debriefing programs with your staff by asking specific questions such as, “What did you see and hear, and what does that tell you about whether we’ve achieved what we wanted to achieve?” These are even more powerful than the excellent common question, “What worked and what didn’t work and what should we do differently next time?”

building a budget for a proposed program that allocates 11 or 12 hours per week of your program director’s time instead of 10 hours, so that he or she has some additional time to think evaluatively.

designing and distributing quick surveys at your events. There’s a strong possibility that you already do this, and it’s equally likely that your current survey isn’t asking the questions that get at what you really want to know. Once you’ve asked the two key questions about any program, you’ll naturally refer back to those questions and your surveys will become significantly more useful.

Before you know it and without any sense of resistance or undue burden, you’ll be doing exactly what you need to do to make your funders happy and gather useful information to improve your program.

So, start incorporating program evaluation into your day-to-day operations today. Place the two key questions on your computer desktop so that you’ll see it every day. Then, take a minute to focus on one of your programs and begin your new habit by asking yourself, “What are we trying to achieve with this program?”

Resources:

If you would like to participate in an online Google Doc forum to help build the habit of asking yourself the two key questions, go to http://www.maggiemiller.org/, then go to the Links Page, then follow the link to the Google Doc.

See also:

Level Best

Leap of Reason

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Big data is not required for big insights

You’ve probably heard a lot about Big Data. Big Data is going to change the world. Big Data is going to change how organizations are run. Big Data is going to clean our garage and walk our dog.

Big Data vs. Small/Medium Data

And maybe Big Data will do that–for big organizations. If you’re Coke or the Fermilab or the National Security Agency, your products or services or spying naturally produce a lot of data. Tapping into and harvesting massive streams of continuously created data, which is the hallmark of Big Data, is a natural thing to do.

But for many of us who work at small and medium organizations, Big Data is an abstraction at best. We simply don’t have massive, ongoing data streams that we can dive into to learn about our markets, our products or services, our clients, or our organization. We’re not big enough to have Big Data. But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from the principles behind this phenomenon and use them to our advantage.

The hype around Big Data is the data itself: massive, previously unattainable and unimaginable rivers of data pouring through your world. But the philosophy behind Big Data is actually more important.  t’s about looking around to identify where those data flows are in your own environment and then tapping into them to gain insight. You don’t need Big Data to do that. It works just as well with Medium Data or Small Data, especially if you’re a medium or small organization. We too can tap into and harvest data; it just flows in smaller quantities at our scale.

Three sources from which to harvest data

So how can we start this harvesting? What can we collect? There are three main sources to consider, though we’ll concentrate mostly on the third one.

First, you can harvest data that already exists outside your organization and is updated regularly. For example, there are lots of federal surveys and data collection efforts out there, and they’re very cost-effective to retrieve if you know about them. The right ones can help you understand your environment.

Second, you can create data via ongoing special efforts, such as conducting a regular survey or instituting a special data collection effort that is not part of your daily operations. This is a bit of a different concept from harvesting data, but still falls within the realm of a streaming source of data you can use for analysis.

But the third concept is the core of where Small Data can help you. It’s the implementation of a system to collect and harvest on an ongoing basis the data that we produce in our daily operations. Or more precisely, it’s data that we do or could produce easily in our daily operations.

Focus on the third

Thinking about that third concept, we all have opportunities to gather data on a daily basis. Most likely, we already do to some extent, even if it’s as simple as our client names or time sheets. So we’re already in the habit of creating data. But how are we using that data? As examples, I’m always surprised by the number of organizations that record their clients’ ZIP codes but then never use that data to examine their clients’ demographic and geographic makeup I’m also surprised by the number of nonprofits that don’t do research on their donor databases to identify their demographic sweet spots. These data are often collected but not often analyzed and leveraged to their full extent.

Beyond harvesting data that already exists, is there other data that we can efficiently build into our routines that can add value, either in understanding our clients, serving our clients, or improving our internal operations and efficiency? My company, for example, began tracking the origins of our consulting engagements a few years ago, and it has been very effective both in identifying inefficient means of marketing and effective ones. Our minor investment in that effort has paid itself back many times over.

There is value in data. We all know that. The key, of course, is to manage the process so you’re gathering valuable data in an efficient manner and then actually using it to your benefit. If you think about evaluating a program, a general rule of thumb is that 5 to 15 percent of the budget should be invested in evaluation, depending on the size of program. If you would make that investment in a program, why not follow the same rule for your organization as a whole? It may pay off handsomely.

See also:

Level Best: How Small and Grassroots Nonprofits Can Tackle Evaluation and Talk Results

Leap of Reason: Managing to Outcomes in an Era of Scarcity

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