Evaluation is one of those things where a little goes a long way. Even though it comes in all shapes and sizes, adding a little survey here, a little check in there can make all the difference. Here are our top 5 reasons why adding a little evaluation processes to your program will help take your organization to the next level.
It helps you better understand your initiative!
With all the hustle and bustle that goes into actually executing an initiative, evaluation is a place where you can take a pause and reflect on your accomplishments and where you would like to go. There are many different ways to reflect; an impact evaluation might focus on what outcomes or targets you achieved, whereas a process evaluation perhaps focuses more on the day to day workflow that got you there. For initiatives that have a lot of natural ebb and flow, a developmental evaluation approach works with you and takes into account the fluctuations as a natural and normal thing. Not only is getting feedback helpful in the moment, but it can also support with sustainability. Burnout and turnover is no stranger in the homelessness sector, and evaluation is a built-in initiative that can help you address those pain points and minimize these issues from the start.
It can support your organization’s strategic goals.
We often work for organizations that are built up of many different initiatives that are (ideally) value aligned and/or trying to achieve some lofty strategic goals. But how do you know for sure that your piece fits into the puzzle?
At Hub Solutions, we love that evaluation is an accountability arm just as much as it is a tool for operational change. Something as simple as asking 1-2 questions on a survey or in an interview (or heck- even a standing agenda item) can help you and your team reorient the spirit of your initiative and correct the course, if needed. It also provides documentation for executive management to make data-informed decisions on their initiatives as a whole.
It gives your funding proposals an edge.
Let’s face it: Funders love data. With so many proposals going into every funding call, having an extra oomf that reaffirms your initiatives awesomeness can help it stand out in the crowd. You know your initiative is important and needed; the evaluation just helps you communicate that in a different way. To start, it doesn’t need to be a published report or a comprehensive analysis. Even just collecting a couple of stats and quotes can really go a long way.
On that note, incorporating a more fleshed-out evaluation component to your proposal also helps boost your legitimacy. It shows the funders that you are serious about your sustainability, and you want to see your initiative through. If you need a hand, you can always reach out to our Hub Solutions team, and we’ll help you prep the evaluation component of your proposal for free!
It helps others learn from you.
As amazing as your initiative is, we know that homelessness is an issue that is not going to be solved through one program or organization. We need to work together! This means that we need to get better at sharing intel and lessons learned so we can help build each other up! It also means supporting sister initiatives who might be starting similar programs, perhaps in different geographic locations or contexts. Most of this information is already passed along through dialogue - and while connection is also very important, putting together a front-facing high level report helps that organizational connection even more. Evaluation is a powerful tool to help collect overall thoughts in one place, the struggles, tensions and lessons learned, and saves your organization time and energy if someone approaches you looking to learn more.
It helps your professional development!
The feedback and recommendations received during an evaluation can help organizations with their strategic planning efforts. In particular, findings from evaluations can help identify next steps in an organization's professional growth. For example, evaluations may highlight a need for enhanced staff training or increased participation from individuals with lived experience of homelessness. Through a thorough review of your program, opportunities for organizational improvements are boundless.
Working on something special and need a hand? You’re in luck! Hub Solutions is giving away a FREE evaluation consultation this fall! Fill out this short 15 minute application and enter to win a free evaluation consultation from our Hub Solutions team!
Need a hand today? The Hub Solutions team is still around to meet your evaluation needs! Contact our Director of Research and Evaluation, John Ecker, for more information or answers to questions on the evaluation consultation giveaway.