Friday, September 12, 2008

Evaluation Series: Fundraising

It is very important to use evaluation in your organization's fundraising efforts. You can do this in a variety of ways, from holding a focus group of your donors to see why they give to using program evaluation information to increase gifts to your organization.

Today we will look at three areas of fundraising- grants, donors and special events. All three use evaluation in some way. When most people think of fundraising and evaluation they immediately think of grants. Every grant writer knows that funders look to that section of your application titled "Evaluation" to make sure you are evaluating your programs and using their money in an effective way. This includes a description of how specifically your organization will evaluate the project being funded. 79 Grantwriting Resources has a post on Evaluation Tools for Your Grant Application that is primarily aimed at youth-serving organizations but has some good information about tools for writing the evaluation section of grants.

You can also use evaluation with your donors in several ways. Counting What Counts mentions a major finding of the keynote speaker of a conference they were at- "after a donor gives a gift to your worthy cause, they want you to learn the measurable outcomes that the gift and your program produce." What does that mean? Well, use one of the tangible outcomes from your program evaluation and share it in the thank you note mentioning how that donor made that possible. You can also use evaluation in the form of focus groups to invite a group of your donors to hear why they give to the organization. You can use your findings to help you increase donations and secure new donors.

With special events, you can use evaluation to evaluate it's success. Or in other terms, it's return-on-investment. I wrote a previous post about this here. You can also use this list of questions to help evaluate your event.

Also, here is a great article that talks about evaluation for fundraising and its importance.

I'll end this series with a few more evaluation resources throughout the web:

  • The Nonprofit Sector Research Fund awards research grants and organizes convenings to expand knowledge of the nonprofit sector and philanthropy, improve nonprofit practices, and inform public policy related to nonprofits. Their website has project findings from their research studies.
  • This website provides information and links to other website to help your organization with evaluation.
  • Here is a "Basic Guide to Outcomes-Based Evaluation for Nonprofit Organizations with Very Limited Resources."
  • Here is a Basic Guide to Program Evaluation.