If You Evaluate It – They Will Come…

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    This posting by: Lynn deLearie.

    Since Andrew Grant wrote in his post, Impress Funders with Your Grant Proposal: Target Your Outcomes, “funders have become consumed with the notion of outcomes assessment.” (The link to Andrew’s piece is at the bottom of this post.)

    I agree, and have found the evaluation section of proposals to be the most critical in winning grants. Potential funders want, and need to know how you will determine if your programs are successful and, by extension, if their money will be well spent.

    Here’s how to write an effective evaluation section of your grant proposal:

    1. Work with your program staff! As I wrote in last month’s post, “Using Credible Research To Write Compelling Needs Statements,” your program staff members are the experts on what your organization does, and they’ll have the most relevant and up-to-date research related to their programs. Work with them to define the goals, outcomes and metrics for their programs, and then include this information in grant proposals.

    2. Include quantitative metrics. Quantitative metrics are measurable, and grant reviewers are increasingly asking for more meaningful data. For example, one foundation requests that, “for an academic measurable outcome we strongly suggest using a standardized test as the instrument to gauge improvement.” Remember that your programs are intended to change behaviors and/or attitudes. Measuring how many people showed up is no longer good enough. However, measuring knowledge before and after a particular program activity (pre- and post-testing) would be a viable quantitative metric.

    3. Define whether you will conduct an internal evaluation or hire an outside evaluator. Who will collect the program outcome data, and what records will you keep? Will this be the responsibility of your program staff, your administrative staff, your grant manager, or an outside evaluator? Who will interpret the data and report on the findings? Include this information in the evaluation section of your grant proposals.

    4. Use your evaluation findings to modify program design. Your evaluation findings should be used to assess your program’s effectiveness, AND to inform your future work. If your evaluation findings show that a particular program outcome was not achieved, discuss this with your program staff. Why do they think the outcome was not achieved, and what would they change going forward? Include this information in the evaluation section of your grant proposals. This will demonstrate that your organization takes program evaluation seriously. You are evaluating your programs to improve their effectiveness, not just because your grant applications require that you do so.

    Impress Funders With Your Grant Proposal: Target Your Outcomes
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    Lynn deLearie Consulting, LLC, helps nonprofit organizations develop, enhance and expand grants programs, and helps them secure funding from foundations and corporations. Contact Lynn deLearie.
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    Look for Lynn’s ebook on Grants & Grantsmanship. It’s part of The Fundraising Series of ebooks
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