Many nonprofit organisations are better at describing what they do rather than the difference they make to people’s lives. While organisations can relay stories about individuals they have helped; they struggle to quantify the impact they have made made on the population that they serve.

The majority of people working for nonprofits and government programs, even its leaders, are more focused at the micro level: how they help individual clients overcome barriers or challenges toward building resiliency. This makes sense, after all these are the folks engaged in the good work to build relationships and trust and are often providing lifesaving services.

While this work comes from the heart, it misses a key component that can help mission-driven organisations become more performance-driven: Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E).

Blackbaud has developed a unique resource for organisations and projects with little or no experience of M&E. Also partnering with one of Australia’s market leaders, Strategic Grants, the aim is to offer a step-by-step approach to setting up simple M&E frameworks.

Our soon-to-be-released 30+ page report, Measuring Impact and the Power of Just Getting Started, will enable organisations wishing to think further about developing the extent and quality of their own M&E practice. It can be used by board members, internal staff, project leaders and volunteers of many nonprofit organisations.

Monitoring and Evaluation is a data-driven approach to creating a more comprehensive feedback loop for maximising organisational impact. You require data goals and data champions to be able to track and analyse the information you need to back up the story you are trying to convey. If you don’t have these in place, the story often falls flat.

For this reason, M&E can be helpful for several reasons:

  1. It can help make your work more effective. You are able to use limited resources most efficiently to have an impact.
  2. The information you collect helps you report to your stakeholders, including financial supporters, and to attract further funding.
  3. It also helps demonstrate that your organisation learns from its experience in order to develop and improve – an evolving organisation.

There are other benefits to improving monitoring and evaluation including:

  • Purpose: A shared understanding of what you expect the project to achieve contributes to a sense of team purpose.
  • Motivation: Seeing evidence of the outcomes of their work can be encouraging for staff and volunteers. It can also be encouraging for service users to see their own progress.
  • Efficiency: Planning your work around what you have monitored, evaluated and know works can make it more effective and efficient in the long run. Also, focusing on the information you need to collect, rather than on what has always been collected, could reduce the time spent on monitoring.
  • Quality assurance: Many quality frameworks require you to collect monitoring information.

It’s also important to note that more and more funders are wanting to see evaluations of the programs they fund. They want to know the funds they provide are having an impact. Effective monitoring and evaluation of your programs supports your ability to prove the impact, show the need and progress evidence-informed programs. NGOs that actively measure impact say that their M&E efforts improve their services and ability to demonstrate impact.

For ongoing projects or programs, evaluation is a no-brainer. As much as you need to evaluate your projects so that you know you are actually making a difference, ongoing funding also relies on your ability to demonstrate the change you are creating.

A good M&E framework can help nonprofits identify and develop evidence-based policy and practice.

This report offers a comprehensive guide to M&E, kicking off with some of the key things you need to think about when getting ready to monitor and evaluate your work.

The most important question to ask is: “Where is your organisation on the Maturity Model Graph?”

The above excerpt is from our 30+ page report titled Measuring Impact and the Power of Just Getting Started written by Greg Simmons, Senior International Partner Manager at Blackbaud.

If you’d like a full copy of the soon-to-be-released report, please visit here.

About Greg Simmons

Greg Simmons is the Senior International Partner Manager and Outcomes Expert at Blackbaud Pacific. He is a past Chair of Special Olympics Sydney Upper North Shore Region and Down Syndrome NSW. Through the good fortune of having a daughter born with Down Syndrome, Greg has spent almost 26 years sitting on nonprofit boards and finance/fundraising committees. In 2012 he co-founded (with his mentor, the late Barry Easy OAM) the Kuringgai Chase Community-based Fun Run to raise money for the local Special Olympics program. His passion comes from 17+ years of providing pro-bono fundraising advice to charities and helping them apply client-focused software to achieve their mission.