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How effective are you in carrying out a program?” Program evaluation may have the answer.

Program evaluation workshop in Pittsfield

This important question and its answer were the focus of a recent presentation sponsored by the Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires. Dr. Penny Brierley-Bowers and Jen Gordon from the Institute’s Applied Research and Program Evaluation business group (ARPE) led the presentation to a group of administrators from area nonprofit organizations.

Program evaluation is a systematic method for collecting, analyzing and using information to answer questions about an organization’s projects, policies and programs, particularly about their effectiveness and efficiency. Further, program evaluation can demonstrate impact and help decide if resources are being used properly. Brierley-Bowers and Gordon stressed that although evaluation can produce very useful results, an organization must first commit to the time and resources needed for a proper evaluation, such as personnel and budget. Evaluation results may also challenge the organization so the political will is needed to accept the results, whether positive or negative.

Once an evaluation is ready to move forward, an organization can then start a multi-phase process:

  1. Preparation and Study Design: Confirm your evaluation goals, detail the evaluation questions and complete the study design.
  2. Data Collection: Identify information needed to answer questions, identify data sources, develop and implement data collection plan.
  3. Analysis and reporting: What are the data telling you about your program? Did you achieve your expected outcomes? What program improvements or changes are suggested? Were you surprised by the results?

Learn more about program evaluation or contact Dr. Penny Brierley-Bowers.

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