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As entities that serve the public, nonprofit organizations have an obligation to demonstrate their value to the public good. The public has a stake in nonprofit performance and is entitled to information regarding organizational results. Nonprofits should regularly measure their performance both in terms of effectiveness, such as outcomes and results of services, and efficiency, such as service delivery systems, and should share such information with their constituents and the general public. Nonprofit evaluation should be appropriate to the size and activities of the organization, and evaluation data should be used to continually improve the quality of processes, programs and activities.
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A compilation of tips, tools, articles and links to help your organization develop an effective strategic plan, set measurable goals, and track your progress.
- All About Strategic Planning (Free Management Library)
- Strategic Planning for Nonprofits (National Council of Nonprofits)
- Yes, You Really Need One - Why Strategic Planning Matters and How to do it Better (Blue Avocado)
- Nonprofit Strategy Development Resources (LaPiana Consulting)
- Strategic Planning and Evaluation: Tools for Realizing Results (SSIR)
- The Strategic Plan is Dead. Long Live Strategy (SSIR)
- Using Your Strategic Plan (Guidestar)
- Strategy Needs a Plan (SSIR)
- Living Into Your Strategic Plan: Tools and Templates (Bridgespan Group)
- Linking Challenge to Opportunity to Strategy (Philanthropy News Digest)
- Insights & Reflections from BoardSource’s Strategic Planning Efforts
Resources provided by this organization include professional evaluation information, external evaluator directory and the Principles for Evaluators.
Extensive toolkit on assessing community need and developing collaboration.
An organization that is data-informed uses data to guide decisions with the goal of generating questions, making changes and improving outcomes. The following resources will help organizations assess how data-informed they are and how they can make better use of data to advance their missions.
Article/Blog, Assessment, Guide/Tool, Research/Report, Sample/Template
Designed around five simple questions, Charting Impact is a common framework designed to help staff, boards, stakeholders, donors, volunteers, and others to work together, learn from each other and serve the community better. It complements planning, evaluation, and assessment that organizations already undertake, and can be used by nonprofits and foundations of all sizes and missions. Tools, resources, and webinars are available to support organizations in thinking strategically about each of the questions.
A guide to help nonprofits budget appropriately for evaluation activities.
This guide provides step-by-step instructions to implement a variety of youth input activities.
Article/Blog, Sample/Template, Video/Tutorial
A dashboard is a tool for visualizing data. Some dashboards show performance over time while others provide a snapshot of a particular aspect of a business. An effective dashboard illustrates rather than tells the audience about areas that need attention or action. There are diverse applications of and approaches to dashboards, and the following articles provide helpful tips and samples.
- Dashboards for Nonprofits (National Council of Nonprofits)
- A Nonprofit Dashboard and Signal Light for Boards (Blue Avocado)
- Beyond Dashboards: Business Intelligence Tools for Program Analysis and Reporting (Idealware)
- Show Me Your Dashboard (Beth Kanter)
- Models and Components of a Great Nonprofit Dashboard (NonprofitQuarterly)
- Dashboards Might Just Be Nonprofits New Best Friend (TechSoup)
- Free Recorded Webinar: How Dashboards Can Help Your Nonprofit Achieve Its Goals (Nonprofit Quarterly)
Some simple suggestions for anyone embarking on planning and managing a project for the first time.
NTEN, M+R Strategic Services
An annually produced analysis of online messaging, fundraising, advocacy, social media and mobile metrics for nonprofit organizations.
National Council of Nonprofits
A comprehensive list of resources and tools to help nonprofits evaluate the effectiveness of their advocacy efforts.
National Council of Nonprofits
Helpful information, articles, and tools about organizational self-assessment and the evaluation of outcomes and programs.
Free Management Library
A compilation of information, links and tools about evaluation strategies and activities.
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
This handbook provides a framework for thinking about evaluation as a relevant and useful program tool.
A helpful glossary of terms related to evaluation and measurement.
The following resources will help you find and manage consultants and vendors, whether for a defined project, or ongoing support. If you need a referral for support on fundraising, strategic planning, legal issues, accounting issues, meeting facilitation, technology, or any other outside support, start here. (Many of the consultants and vendors in MANP's Yellow Pages offer nonprofit rates.)
Focus groups can be a useful strategy for gathering feedback from stakeholders, such as clients, supporters, staff, or volunteers. The following resources provide guidance to ensure you design an effective process.
A free workbook that will help you identify what you want to measure and why, what metrics to use, how to communicate the results throughout your organization, and how to use data to plan.
In a world where people are constantly bombarded with information, it is increasingly important to design visuals that tell a story that data or words couldn’t have conveyed on their own. The following resources provide guidance on how to make clear and informative "infographics."
Nonprofit evaluation and assessment support organization providing resources such as assessment and planning tools, consultation, articles, advice, personalized information, newsletter, and training.
The following resources explain the concept of a logic model and how to use this tool to enhance program planning, implementation, and dissemination activities.
Data Innovation Project
The Data Scan is a repository of accessible, free, reputable, and relevant data sources from around the State of Maine to help nonprofit organizations find data to inform their program planning, strategic planning and grant writing.
These articles will help you define meaningful metrics to measure progress.
This free toolkit provides nonprofits with a framework for measuring their fundraising effectiveness. The framework outlines three primary measures, which together, provide a much more complete picture of an organization’s fundraising health. The toolkit includes a summary, discussion guide for boards, and tools for applying the measures to your organization.
A national clearinghouse of data on the nonprofit sector in the United States, including access to specific organizations' Form 990 data, and information on filing the 990.
Resources and information on good practices in all areas of nonprofit management, including a section on volunteerism.
Your nonprofit will only know that it is having an impact if it is evaluating its performance. Identifying and communicating impact is important. The following resources will help you more fully understand the purpose and practice of measuring outcomes.
A simple overview of the key questions to address during a community needs assessment.
This report provides case studies and best practices related to program evaluation and measurement. Find advice on what data to track and how to use what you're tracking to improve programs and services.
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