Empowering Nonprofits Through Data

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Observations and Inspiration from Chari Smith

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I’m going to get fired…

September 6th, 2022

I’m going to get fired.

That’s what you might think if your boss emailed you a report showing your program isn’t meeting its goals.

I’m going to get fired.

Let’s unpack that.

  1. Your boss should never, ever email you a report with that kind of information. It just fuels fear.
  2. It’s a conversation. always. with a focus on how to use the data to improve.

Let’s rewind that, and try this instead –

Your boss calls you into their office and says, “We got this report showing the program isn’t meeting its’ goals. Let’s dig into the data and see what we can learn about what’s not working. Then we can brainstorm together what we can change in the program plan to improve progress toward the goals.”

Better, right? Maybe getting fired is no longer the fear. Instead, there’s genuine curiosity of how to improve to meet program goals.

That’s how program evaluation can support your program, by understanding what is going well and where improvements are needed. It does require a commitment to get curious when something isn’t working. It comes down to these three concepts:

This helps to build a culture of evaluation in your organization. Cultivating this kind of culture emphasizes learning to ensure you are in fact making the difference you intend to make.

Want to learn more? Join me at 11:00 a.m. PT on Thursday, October 13 for Building a Culture of Evaluation.

During this 20-minute webinar hosted by American Evaluation Association, we’ll explore issues around an organization’s willingness to engage in the process through real world examples and a concrete process on how you can build a culture of evaluation. More information & registration here.

To receive a discount, use the promo code evalrocks. If you have any trouble with the discount code or registration, please contact Benjimin at bborucki@eval.org. Please note: you will have to set up an American Evaluation Association account in order to register, even as a nonmember.


A New Partnership

I’m excited to share with you that Evaluation into Action, LLC, is now an affiliate partner with Joan Garry’s Nonprofit Leadership Lab. I’ve been a big fan of Joan ever since we crossed paths a few years ago. What truly caught my attention is her 14 attributes to a thriving nonprofit. One of them was to have clear and measurable outcomes. And that means, you need to have program evaluation in place.

One great way to check out how valuable the Nonprofit Leadership Lab can be is to join Joan Garry for a jam-packed workshop that will give you the practical advice you need to strengthen your org and lead with more intention. Here are a few webinars you can take advantage of. Click the link to reserve your seat!

What They’re Saying

I’m so grateful for ongoing positive feedback for my book, Nonprofit Program Evaluation Made Simple: Get your Data. Show your Impact. Improve your Programs.Thanks to Jane T. for her review.

“This is my go-to book for program evaluation. Chari spells out in very clear language the process/steps of evaluation and gives great examples of how this works. It’s all about the impact of our programs and the “so what” of results. I teach program evaluation and design and recommend this book to my students, as well. Buy this book if you work in nonprofit – you won’t be sorry you did!!!!”

If you have my book, please consider writing a review and rating it wherever you purchased. It truly helps others find it more easily.


Now we have an amazing way to measure the physical, emotional, and mental effects of our programs...

Chari accurately captured the fundamental goals and mission of our organization and transformed our input into a clear evaluation process that helps us assess the impact of our programs on the lives of the families that we serve. Now we have an amazing way to measure the physical, emotional, and mental effects of our programs and to guide change, ensuring that we are delivering services in the most effective way possible.

Brandi Tuck, Executive Director, Portland Homeless Family Solutions

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