NPF Week: Johanna Morariu, Kat Athanasiades, Veena Pankaj, and Deborah Grodzicki on Fresh Findings about Nonprofit Evaluation Practice and Capacity

We are Johanna Morariu, Kat Athanasiades, Veena Pankaj, and Deborah Grodzicki of Innovation Network, a consulting firm that specializes in helping nonprofit and philanthropic organizations collect data, learn, and make informed decisions.

In 2010 we founded the State of Evaluation Project, an ongoing research effort to document the status and changes of evaluation capacity and practice among US-based nonprofit organizations. Since the first study, the State of Evaluation Project has spurred renewed attention to nonprofit evaluation capacity. Our survey questions have been used and adapted to assess nonprofit evaluation capacity in a few states and cities in the US and Canada.

We will present the latest installment of research findings at Evaluation 2016. For those of you who are evaluation research aficionados, here is a sneak peek of our newest data:

  1. 92% of nonprofit organizations evaluated some part of their work in 2015.
  2. 28% of nonprofit organizations possess promising capacities that make them more likely to meaningfully engage in evaluation.
  3. The most common purpose to engage in evaluation was to strengthen future work (70% of nonprofit organizations). Additional evaluation goals include learning whether objectives have been achieved (61%), learning about outcomes (56%), contributing knowledge to the field (26%), and strengthening public policy (18%).
  4. The most common evaluation focuses were measuring outcomes (91% of nonprofit organizations), measuring quality (91%), and measuring quantity (90%). Fewer organizations reported focuses of measuring long-term impact (67%) and measuring return on investment (55%).
  5. In 6% of nonprofit organizations, evaluation staff are responsible for evaluation. In more than half of nonprofit organizations, evaluation is either the responsibility of the CEO/ED (34%) or program staff (29%).

Rad Resource:

The full report will be out this October 2016, and will include many more findings such as nonprofit use of big data, participation in pay for performance arrangements, and the types of software systems used to support evaluation. Sign up to be one of the first to receive State of Evaluation 2016!

State of Evaluation 2016 is a national study of US-based 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations. Organizations were included in our study if they updated their IRS Form 990 in 2013 or later, and provided a contact email address. The survey was open between June and August 2016 and 1,125 representatives of nonprofit organizations responded to the survey based on their organization’s characteristics or behaviors in 2015.

Special thanks to past State of Evaluation authors Ehren Reed and Ann Emery.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Nonprofit and Foundations TIG Week with our colleagues in the NPF AEA Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our NPFTIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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