TOP 7 RESOLUTIONS FOR RESEARCHING, REPORTING AND EVALUATING (2018)

Janet Christy, Owner of Leverage & Development, LLC, offers this list of resolutions to help organizations, agencies and businesses be more effective in conducting research, developing reports and evaluating their operations and programs.

 

  1. If you find the answer, it is worth the journey. Research is time consuming if done by you or your staff.  Research costs money if you hire someone else to do it.  However, if you find the needed answer or solution it is well worth the cost of time or dollars.  If you weigh the problems caused by not having the proper information, example, rules, requirements, obstacles, input, statistics, etc., the journey (cost and time) doesn’t look too bad.

 

  1. If you pay for research or a report, read it. When you hand over your valuable and limited dollars to someone for them to perform research, prepare a report or conduct an evaluation, it is a waste to not use it.  Even if you did it only because it was a requirement from your funder, board or boss, it can still provide useful information.  That information can help you improve the performance and effectiveness of your programs and efforts.  It can also provide you useful insight into any aspect of your operation – clients, programs, staff, processes and impediments.  If the report or evaluation provides a plan, then to put it on the shelf after you have spent your money or the time of your staff on developing it is not only wasteful, it is foolish.  At the very least, read what you paid for and then make a conscious decision to use it or not.

 

  1. Exceed Reporting Expectations. Not many people like preparing reports (I’m one of the weirdos that does like it). Because people do not like doing it, they often spend as little time and effort as possible on it.  This is a huge mistake, especially for getting sustained or future funding.  Here are some reporting mistakes that can ruin your reputation with a funder, board or boss:  1) Not providing what they ask for, 2) Not using the format they specify, 3) Submitting late, 4) Not exceeding their expectations.  The problem caused by #4 is that you doing the minimal will look mediocre compared to someone who goes beyond the requirements.  Looking mediocre compared to the competition is the kiss of death to funding in the currently highly competitive landscape.

 

  1. Use facts instead of or in addition to stories/anecdotes.  It does take time to do the things necessary to quantify your outcomes, but quantification is proof of your effectiveness.  Quantification requires research (for statistics), tracking (of your results, not your activities) and measuring (improvements and successes).  Remember that doing the things necessary to quantify is a process, not something you do 2 days before you have to prepare a report for your funder, board, donors or boss.

 

  1. Do not hide from the truth. Evaluation is seen by many organizations and agencies as a judgement.  It can be, but its actual purposes are to help you identify problems (so you can solve them, not so you get punished), determine your successes (so you can publicize and capitalize on them), modify (so you can be even more successful) and prove your value (so you can keep getting funding).  Evaluations uncover important things; they do not invent or cause them.  If you stick your head in the sand, you will likely choke.

 

  1. Do not confuse activities with outcomes. Activities are things you do, outcomes are things you accomplish.  Holding 10 classes on financial literacy is an activity.  Helping 10 families reduce their debt by 50% in one year is an outcome.  Funders and boards want to hear about outcomes, not activities.  If your reports are full of activities instead of outcomes or your evaluators can only find tallies of activities instead of measurement of outcomes, your success and effectiveness is not proved.

 

  1. Fulfill your dreams, not your nightmares. If you get funding or establish partnerships that are not in harmony with your purpose and programs, you will set yourself up for nightmares instead of realizing your dream.  Be sure that you do not seek or accept funding that does any of the following: 1) takes time and money away from your core mission/purpose, 2) costs you more than it provides you (knowing this will require a realistic attitude and tracking), 3) involves requirements and “hoops” that cause more frustration than benefit.

 

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