Knowledge Advisory Group

Nonprofit Management

Can Program Evaluation Improve Your Fundraising Success? Yes It Can!

In the nearly twenty years that I’ve been an evaluator, there’s one reason I hear over and over again for why some nonprofits (and other organizations) shy away from program evaluation:

“Oh, we don’t need to do an evaluation. We know we’re doing great things!”

My reply is always the same:

“I’m sure you are doing lots of great things…but can you prove it? And do you know what you need to do to make more great things happen?”

One of the benefits of conducting an evaluation is the positive impact it can have on fundraising success. An evaluation… Learn more

Program Evaluation Terminology 101

When an organization or nonprofit begins participating in an evaluation, some of the vocabulary can be unclear to staff who are newcomers to the process. Understanding evaluation terminology can help you gain a better grasp of the evaluation process, so we’ve put together a list of some of the most important terms and definitions to help you along the way.


  • Logic Model visual representation of the most critical elements of a program’s operation and expected outcomes, which identifies critical areas for evaluation
  • Evaluation systematic collection of information about the activities, characteristics, and outcomes of a program in order to… Learn more

Why Do Nonprofits Need Program Evaluation?

Nonprofit organizations, in the ongoing effort to achieve their missions, typically undertake program evaluations to serve one or more of these three general purposes:


  • Accountability – measuring the results of programs and accounting for the use of resources


  • Knowledge Generation – creating new understanding of what works and what doesn’t


  • Program Planning or Improvement – supporting clear, well-designed, feasible, and measureable grant-making programs which thereby promote overall organizational effectiveness



Let’s absorb that for a minute.  Evaluation not only allows you to see where your program is but offers tangible room for growth and enhancement.… Learn more

Program Evaluation: A Breakdown

When people think of program evaluation, they often visualize undesirable symbols of judgment – things like grades, scores, and the SATs. However, evaluation doesn’t need to feel negative.

New approaches in evaluation have begun to facilitate positive responses and potentially powerful effects on programs.

Determining exactly what is involved in an evaluation can change based on the kind of programs being evaluated.

However, there are several stages any evaluation must work through.

1. Identifying Measures of Success Clarifying the goals of the program and identifying how to measure its success

2. Evaluation Design Designing the research and creating specific,… Learn more

Must-Read Resources for Nonprofits


In this age of increasing technology and access to knowledge, there is a wealth of information and resources that can be found on the web.

Whether you’re searching for the answer to a particular question, trying to expand your knowledge base, or just browsing, these are some must-read resources for resourceful nonprofits:

1. Harvard Business Review Blog Network The HBR blog network posts a variety of nonprofit-relevant content from a collection of bloggers. It includes information about data, data-based decision making, leadership, technology, and other valuable skill-sets for those in the nonprofit sector.

2. Innovation Network has a… Learn more

Findings from the Central Virginia Nonprofit Needs Assessment Effort

In Pursuing Goals To Better Support Its Mission, Gain A Baseline Understanding About Nonprofit Capacity Building Deficits, And Assess Current Awareness And Satisfaction Of Its Programs, The Partnership For Nonprofit Excellence (The Partnership) Contracted With An Independent Consulting Firm, Knowledge Advisory Group, In May 2012 To Create An Objective Process For Assessing Nonprofit Resource Needs. Learn more

A Brief, Non-Political Reflection on the Komen/Planned Parenthood Situation

I don’t plan to use this blog as a political forum, so fear not – this post has nothing to do with my personal opinions on the missions of the Susan G. Komen Foundation and Planned Parenthood organizations. In addition, I admittedly haven’t read every word written on this subject so I’m speaking a bit off the cuff.

Having said that, as a professional evaluator, I did have a fairly immediate reaction to recent news reports of the Komen Foundation’s decision (and subsequent about-face) to cut funding to Planned Parenthood.

As I watched article after article pop up in the… Learn more

Evaluation Can Be Fun? Yes it Can!

People who know me well have heard me say many times that I see evaluation as part science and part art. Armed with markers, flip charts and their imaginations, students in my Outcomes Evaluation class (hosted by Nonprofit Learning Point) discover their preconceived notions about evaluation, envision how it can help to achieve goals, and break through barriers that may be holding them back.

Here’s a little something we created in class last week:

Don’t Be Confused, Be Informed!

I often hear nonprofit and government employees become frustrated with the “language” of evaluation.  On occasion, I’ve even seen a promising evaluation effort go off the rails because the terminology was confusing.

What’s an input?

…An output?

…An outcome?  

If you’ve been seeking definitions that can help you understand the differences, check out the Leap of Reason website or call us for more information.

“Comprehensive data allowed management changes to be made more rapidly, leading to a leaner and more effective organization.” ~ American Red Cross, Richmond Chapter

“They were able to determine a ROI figure to help define the value proposition of our program.” ~ Virginia Economic Development Partnership

“The assessment allowed me to deliver a monumental, sea-change, amount of information to the organization with data to back me up.” ~ American Red Cross, Richmond Chapter

“Trina’s interviewing technique is a more effective way to uncover staff issues and ineffective procedures.” ~ Senior Connections, Area Agency on Aging

"The third party review added credibility.” ~ Virginia Economic Development Partnership

“The project more than paid for itself in the short-term.” ~ American Red Cross, Richmond Chapter

“I was spending 2-4 hours per week dealing with staff issues that have now been removed.” ~ Senior Connections, Area Agency on Aging

“We never received a report better than this one.” ~ Virginia Economic Development Partnership

"The Knowledge Advisory Group exceeded our expectations. They provided a solid grasp on what we achieved, along with additional framework for designing and measuring future programs."    ~Virginia Community Capital

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