© 2020 by Words with Impact. 

  • Rachel Niemczyk

Measurements of Success: Proof Your Program Helps the Community


Image by janjf93 from Pixabay

Think of the types of nonprofits you like to donate to. What caused you to bite the bullet and give your money to them? Chances are, it wasn’t just the sympathetic story you heard, but a combination of that story and the organization’s proof that they were helping people in need. This proof was probably conveyed through data and statistics that showed if you donated, your money would make an impact on people’s lives.


Well, the same way that you like to know your donation will be put to good use, funders do too! That’s why the measurement of success portion of your grant application is so important. It proves to funders that their money will do what you say it will and help the amount of people they want to help.


So how do you prove that your program really meet the needs of your community? When and how did your constituents tell you they needed this program?


When you started providing this program, did you give the participants an opportunity to provide feedback that can improve the program? What form does that take? How often does that opportunity arise?


What do you do if your program isn’t getting the results you’d hoped for? Do you revamp the program mid-session? Change it for next year? Stop offering it altogether?


These are the questions you need to have clear answers to in order for funders to feel confident that their money won’t be wasted if they give it to you. And the best way to give funders these answers is through a combination of qualitative and quantitative data.


Quantitative data is hard facts, numbers, and statistics. It shows, without a shadow of a doubt, that your program was qualified to improve lives and carried out that promise.


Qualitative data is more subjective things like testimonials, media attention, and program pictures. It shows your program made an impact, but the effects of that impact were based on somebody’s opinion.


Ideally you should have a combination of both quantitative and qualitative data for your program, but at least one is a must to show funders you care about how effective your program actually is, and are getting 3rd party data (of a sort) to prove it. Below are some common examples of quantitative data and qualitative data you can use to measure your program’s effectiveness. (It’s by no means exhaustive though, so please don’t feel like you have to limit yourself to these forms of data!)


Quantitative

  • Participation (attendance, certificate of completion, followup tracking)

  • Tests (pre/post grade comparison)

  • Performance compared to a control group

  • Curriculum standards

  • Presenter qualifications


Qualitative

  • Media attention (newspaper articles, social media posts)

  • Testimonials (interviews, Q&A sessions)

  • Staff & volunteer observations

  • Data collection (surveys, feedback form)

  • Pictures or video of the program


Once you know which type(s) of data you will be collecting, it’s also important to note how often you will be collecting it. Every session? Every month? At the halfway point and end of the program? Just at the end of the program?


Even if funders don’t specifically ask for these details, it’s important to include this information in your application. It proves you’ve really thought through all aspects of your program, know your community, and are willing to adapt to what your community needs (even if that’s different from what you originally planned).


So what types of quantitative and qualitative data do you use to measure your program’s effectiveness? Do you prefer a type that isn't mentioned in this post? Share your thoughts in the comments below so we can all learn from each other and support each other in the crazy world of grant writing.


Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next week with another article!


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