Category Archives: resolutions

TOP 7 RESOLUTIONS FOR RESEARCHING, REPORTING AND EVALUATING (2019)

  1. Use strong language. When you write a report or a grant application don’t be afraid to use strong and powerful words.   Strong words convey confidence, ability and the promise of meaningful outcomes.  The tendency of most people writing reports and grant applications is to use eloquence instead of directness.  But in this situation eloquence is not as convincing.  Here are some examples of strong words: provide, demonstrate, obtain, effect and add.  And these words are stronger if you do not temper them with words that increase their eloquence but do not add to the impact, for instance: Instead of will attempt to, just use will, instead of plan to collect, say will collect.

 

  1. Don’t be too wordy. Too many words can be perceived as propping up a lame idea or program.  Often you are limited in how many words you can include in a grant application or report.  The reason for the limit is to ensure the writer is succinct.  Weak wording almost always results in excess words.  Using too many words in a grant application make you seem hesitant or unsure of the effort/organization for which you seek funding.  Wordiness in a report will cause it to not be read (length and boredom factor) or it will sound like a “sales job” instead of a presentation of information or, even worse, both.   If you use strong words (see Resolution #1) you are much less likely be too wordy.

 

  1. Keep your commitments to the Researcher, Report Writer and Grant Writer. Whether you hire someone or use staff to conduct research, write a report or apply for a grant, you need to do what you promised to do.  Some typical things you might be called on to do are: supply the names and contact information of people to interview, alert key stakeholders that they will be contacted, encourage participation in a survey.  The things you are supposed to do are vital to the project.  If you fail do them or don’t do them in the agreed upon time-frame, you make it much more difficult (maybe even impossible) for your consultant or staff to do their job and meet the deadlines.

 

  1. Do not confuse activities with outcomes. (Carried over from 2018) Activities are things you do, outcomes are things you accomplish.  Speaking to groups, conducting classes, providing materials, counseling families are all activities.  Outcomes are things you can measure such as: helping 20 individuals improve their credit score, assisting 5 families in qualifying for home loans or decreasing the number of obese children between 5 and 7.

 

  1. Divorce your partners if you are not compatible. If your partners do not keep their commitments, do not meet deadlines and time-frames, are not what they represented their organization to be or anything else that hampers you from producing your outcomes, do not stay “married”.  Be sure that you clearly include in your contract or Memorandum-of-Understanding the expectations and the proper statements to facilitate dissolution of the partnership if commitments are not met according to the agreement.

 

  1. Don’t bite off something that will choke you. Be careful that you don’t chase money that has requirements attached to it that will take you away from your goals or primary purpose.  Avoid funding that forces you to do things that will cost you more time and/or money than it’s worth.  Do not try to make your round peg fit into the funder’s square hole.

 

  1. Respond to emails in a timely manner. It is very important that you respond promptly to emails (and phone calls) from your funders and from consultants/staff that are doing research, a report, a grant application or an evaluation.  Not responding promptly leaves them to wonder if you got the email, are ignoring them or do not know the answer/don’t have the information.  Even worse, they may think you do not value the project and that can result in all types of fallout.  It is not just respectful and polite to respond in a timely manner, it is also efficient.  If you don’t respond you will either hold up someone else’s work or put them into a position to guess/assume and move on.

 

If you would like additional information on the topics mentioned in these resolutions visit Janet’s blog at www.janetwchristy.wordpress.com.  More information on Janet and her consulting firm can be found at www.leverageanddevelopment.com.    You can contact Janet at janet@leverageanddevelopment.com.

 

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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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