Earlier this year, Usable Knowledge conducted a survey of 250 nonprofit groups designed to learn how they use evaluation in their organizations and how they perceive funder support for it. The survey was administered online between April 15th and May 15th of this year and covered calendar 2014. Although the response rate was small, the organizations that did complete the survey represent groups of all sizes (under $500,000 to over $16 Million) and a broad range of nonprofit sectors (human services, environmental advocacy, youth, employment and training, etc.). About a third had one or more staff members dedicated to evaluation (the rest used a senior staff member for evaluation) and a little more than half reported hiring an external evaluator during the study period.
Over the course of the next few weeks we will be releasing some of the findings from the study as we prepare a final report. Here are the key findings so far:
- Nonprofits report that they use evaluation to assess program implementation, participant satisfaction, and program outcomes.
- Nonprofits are proactive in using evaluation internally for program improvement, new program planning, in proposals for new funding, and in communicating results via conference presentations and writing.
- While respondents reported that there funders require evaluation, less than half indicated that they support evaluation financially or in other ways. Many in fact were uncertain as to how their evaluation reports are being used.