We recently worked with Matthew Von Hendy of Green Heron Information Services on a review of the literature related to nonprofit use of program evaluation. While we haven’t finished going through the two dozen plus articles Green Heron was able to surface, one thing is clear– the number of empirical studies focused on evaluation utilization is limited. In the fall of 2014, we made a decision to undertake a sample survey study designed to address this issue. We’re calling the study “The State of Program Evaluation 2015.”
We should say at the outset that the sample is small relative to the number of not-for-profits currently recognized by the IRS (the final arbiter of nonprofit status) but we believe that it is reasonably representative of the kinds of organizations that might use program evaluation either because their funders require it or as a tool for program planning. Unlike other surveys on this topic, what makes The State of Program Evaluation 2015 unique is that it includes a number of open-ended questions designed to get at the rationale for evaluation use (or non-use). Beyond a focus on how evaluation is being done in non-profit organizations, the Usable Knowledge survey, seeks to learn how evaluation is being used.
We are hoping for a substantial response rate and will be sharing the study’s findings as they become available. If you would like to receive more information on the survey let us know.