20 Questions about Program Evaluation

  1. What is our intended impact?
  2. What are our specific goals?
  3. How will we know if we achieved each of our goals?
  4. What is our organization doing to contribute to that intended impact and those specific goals?
  5. What resources and relationships are needed to achieve our goals?
  6. What internal capacities and skills are needed to achieve our goals?
  7. What internal capacities and skills are needed to conduct the evaluation?
  8. Who will be involved in the evaluation process and what will their responsibilities be?
  9. How will we measure our progress toward our goals?
  10. How will we evaluate process, outputs, and outcomes?
  11. How will we collect data and stories for this evaluation?
  12. What data collection instruments need to be designed?
  13. How will we analyze the information that is collected?
  14. What kinds of information will the evaluation reveal?
  15. How will we use the information that is collected through our evaluation?
  16. How will the results of the evaluation be used to strengthen the program and the organization?
  17. How will we communicate the results of our evaluation?
  18. How is accountability integrated into the culture of our organization?
  19. How are the voices of program participants included in the evaluation process?
  20. How will this evaluation reveal unmet needs and how will the organization respond to these?

My Week: Clearing

I spent a good part of the beginning of this week watching an old, dilapidated building being destroyed. Bit by bit, a Caterpillar claw removed bricks, shingles, and innumerable other items until a pile of rubble remained on the ground. I spend a good part of the end of the week unintentionally removing all of the toxins from my body. Whether I had food poisoning or a virus remains unknown; what I do know is that I have never felt so sick in my entire life.

While the process of clearing out feels icky, messy, and miserable, it is only by doing so that we can create space for new possibilities. The space where the old building once stood will be lovingly filled with a new home for many people. The space inside of my body will be carefully and delicately filled with nourishment until all is healed. Both processes of clearing have also created a positive psychic energy from which a renewed sense of clarity and purpose is emerging for me.

I often have a hard time letting go of old feelings and things, regardless of how heavy and obstructive they truly are to me. These attachments block the flow of energy and a limit my ability to feel free.

The destructive processes that I have witnessed and experienced this week have reminded me of their life affirming dimensions. Like waste that transforms into compost that nourishes a plentiful garden, letting heavy or negative things, ideas, and feelings flow away can lead to a bountiful, flourishing life.

The People Pages: Program Planning and Development

from The People Pages: Resources for Social Change (c) 2003 The Fruition Coalition

  1. Needs Assessment – Conduct research to determine the needs in the community you serve.  Primary research could include interviews, surveys, and focus groups with potential or existing program participants, community leaders, and local residents.  Contact similar programs in your area to find out what they are and aren’t doing.  Ask their staff, volunteers, and participants what they perceive as unmet needs in the community.   If programs have been unwelcome or ineffective, get feedback.  Ask the people who use your services and the staff who implement them what changes they think would be helpful.
  1. Organizational and Program Analysis – Assess your organization’s capacity and determine whether or not growth is appropriate or feasible.  Review recent program activities.  Brainstorm ideas for growth, change, or cutbacks.
  1. Program Planning Decide which programs will continue, which will terminate, and what new programs will be started.  Develop an implementation plan that describes each program’s activities.  Set measurable goals for each program.  Break down each goal into a concrete action plan.  Assign each task in the action plan to a staff or volunteer.  Determine which outcomes will demonstrate whether or not the program has been a success.  Design instruments to collect data.
  1. Analyze Resources – Determine if any staffing changes will need to be made.  Determine if your facilities, technology, and equipment are adequate.
  1. Financial Planning – Develop a budget for each program.  Research and develop diverse sources of funding.  Set prices for participants.
  1. Marketing and Promotion – Publicize your programs and services to the people who will use them through interpersonal interaction, press releases, flyers, newsletters, etc.
  1. Implementation– Deliver programs and services.
  1. Outcomes Measurement – This is the process of collecting and analyzing information to determine whether or not program goals have been achieved.  Collect data and document behaviors, attitudes, and opinions.  Measure changes and patterns in each.  Transcribe data through a software program that can interpret and summarize the collective information.
  1. Program Evaluation – Review results from the outcomes measurement process.  If goals were not achieved, research why this happened.  Figure out ways that programs could be changed to meet goals.
  1. Communicate Results – Share the success of your programs through grant reports, annual reports, your website, and newsletter.

Headbanger’s Rule #4: Reinvention

Did you know that Gene Simmons, the guitarist for KISS (yes, the one with a tongue), used to be a high school teacher? Gene knows what good leaders understand – that identity is fluid. We can recreate and reinvent ourselves to reflect what we have learned and who we want to become.

The People Pages: Strategic Planning

from The People Pages: Resources for Social Change (c) 2003 The Fruition Coalition

A strategic plan is the product of your organization’s ongoing planning, implementation, and monitoring process.  The strategic planning process identifies emerging organizational goals and objectives and delineates an action plan for their achievement.

While the board of directors is most directly involved in this process, staff, volunteers, and program participants should be encouraged to contribute their ideas about the organization’s future direction.  The process is usually facilitated by an objective third party consultant who can identify and clarify issues, lead the group toward consensus, and prepare a final, written plan.   The planning process can take several months and the final plan sets direction for the next 3 to 5 years.

The steps of the strategic planning process are:

  1. Recommit to your vision and mission statements.  Because all of your organization’s activities revolve around your vision and mission, it is important to analyze their relevance and rewrite them if necessary before going any further.
  2. Conduct a situational analysis (AKA ‘SWOT Analysis’).  Identify your organization’s strengths and weaknesses and environmental opportunities and threats.  This analysis should be performed on all areas of operations: finances, human resources, programs, fundraising, etc.  This process will help you find ways to build on your strengths, remedy your weaknesses, take advantage of opportunities, and minimize threats.
  3. Set goals and objectives.  Goals and objectives should be set for each area of operations.  They should evolve out of your vision and mission and respond to the findings of your situational analysis.
  4. Break it down into tasks.  Assign each task to a specific individual, determine how much it will cost, and the timeframe in which it must be done.
  5. Organize the information.  List each person’s responsibilities.  Make a calendar that shows what will happen when.  Add up the costs for each operational area.  Put your goals and objectives into writing and make sure that everyone who has a hand in that process is aware of, and has a deep understanding of, the goals, objectives, and action plan.
  6. Implement the plan.  Put your plan into action.  Supervise the process by minding the calendar, staff and volunteer actions, and budget.
  7. Monitor the results.  Whether a goal is met or not, analyze and assess the outcome.  Determine whether the result is a product of a strength, weakness, opportunity, or threat.  Apply what you learn to planning and implementing in the future.
  8. Revise the plan if needed.  If the external environment presents an unexpected situation or the internal environment evolves in an unpredicted way, adjust your goals, objectives, and plan of action appropriately.
  9. Start over again.  One year to six months before the end of your existing plan, it’s time to get ready to plan again.