Tag Archives: Statistics

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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Tracking Made Easier (or at least less frustrating)

Very often when it is time for me to do an evaluation or assessment of an organization, department or program the proper data is not available.  It is not that it has been lost or that it is confidential.  Nope, it is that it has not been tracked.

Granted tracking is tedious and it does not contribute to the delivery of services.  However, it does help determine success and it definitely affects funding.

Not tracking results in cost — more paid to a consultant, time lost trying to gather at the last minute, frustration and, the worst, lost funding.

Following are some tips that will help you make tracking less tedious, time consuming and frustrating.  These tips will also help you track in a manner that facilitates turning activities into outcomes in your reports.

First of all you must keep your promises.  You must track what you said you would.  You should always strive to meet the expectations of your Funders, Manager, Board or Partners.

You should track as you go.  Recording data regularly means doing it in the manner that will enable you to know at any point that you are on the right track and meet any reporting commitments.  Regularly could be daily, weekly, after each event/session or whatever “as you go” works best for your organization.

Never use the “catch up” method.  Translation: recreating at the end of the month or when the report is written.  This causes all kinds of problems.

  • Inaccurate Reporting – accuracy is assumed by Funders and Managers.  It is your responsibility to be accurate.
  • Cheat your organization or department by not providing all of your accomplishments and not presenting it in the best light
  • Takes more time than recording as you go.
  • Means something else suffers while you dedicate someone’s time to preparing a report that would have virtually written itself if tracking had been done along the way.

Do not rely on an unorganized method such as sticky notes or notations on your calendar.

Honor the specifications of the person or entity that will receive the report (Funder, Manager, Board, Partner, etc.)

  • If they require a specific database — use it, and don’t whine.
  • Meet the recipient’s timelines – don’t ask for leeway or make excuses.
  • Realize that you not meeting specifications may cause your Funder or Department to lose their funding, community support, management favor, or something else vital to survival — don’t bite the hand that feeds you.
  • If your Funder or Manager does not have specifications for reporting, get approval for the method you want to use.  Not knowing the desired form and contents does not excuse you for not providing what they want.  Remember that ignorance is not an excuse. Do you get a ticket for running a stop sign even if you say you didn’t see the stop sign?

If you do not feel comfortable or confident about tracking, get help in developing a process and timelines.  Help can come from a consultant/evaluator, other organizations/departments, higher education and even the report recipient.

 

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