Empowering Nonprofits Through Data


Nonprofit Program Evaluation Made Simple:
Get your Data. Show your Impact. Improve your Programs.

by Chari Smith

Teacherslearn how you can use this book in your classroom. Go here to learn more.


Are you overwhelmed on how to do nonprofit program evaluation? You’re not alone. And I’m here to help!

There are many ways to do program evaluation, making it difficult to know how to start. Funders require data to demonstrate impact, which just adds to the stress. Those stressful and overwhelming days are over. This book outlines a clear approach, filled with real world stories as well as examples of evaluation plans, surveys, and reports. I detail exactly how to adopt this simple approach so that you have the data you need to satisfy funder requirements and to make program planning decisions.

Key topics addressed:

  • How to plan your program evaluation so you avoid common pitfalls that can be time consuming and expensive
  • Understand how to build buy-in for evaluation with your team and how to address staff resistance or fears
  • Create measurable outcomes for both grant applications and to guide program improvement
  • Develop an impact and/or logic model that visually communicates what your program does and the difference it makes
  • Create useful surveys that measure what matters
  • Understand the choices in how to manage your data – spreadsheets vs. database solutions
  • Create a clear data collection process that is realistic and satisfies everyone’s timeline
  • Basic data analysis and reporting to make meaning of your data
  • Use data visualization to create compelling reports

Bonus: Every book comes with access to a companion website, which is full of downloadable real-world examples and templates you can use to get started!

Special thanks to the following nonprofits generously allowing me to include excerpts from our work together in order to help others learn how to do program evaluation:

Curious about why I wrote a book in the first place? Read about my journey!

Journal Reviews

“This book represents a culture shift from exclusively chasing data to respond to funder requests to using data to learn…this book shows you how to integrate program evaluation into your day-to-day operations in order to improve programs and demonstrate your impact.”

Journal of Philanthropy & Marketing, February 2022
Book review by Dr. David Fetterman
Author, Empowerment Evaluation
President & CEO of Fetterman and Associates


“…the author adopts a strong cultural approach to evaluation. It is more a textbook to be used by teachers in master class and by trainers for mid-managers positions in the public and nonprofit sectors.”

VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations (2022)*
Book review by Andrea Bassi
Associate Professor in General Sociology
*Please note, if you’re not a subscriber, the full review is available for purchase.


“In Nonprofit Program Evaluation Made Simple, Chari Smith has produced a summary guide targeting professionals working in nonprofit organizations who are beginning their understanding of what is, and how to undertake, an evaluation. The tone of the book is bright and positive, the author clear, engaging, and professional.”

The Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation
Lisa O’Reilly MPA CE


“Chari Smith presents practical and easy to understand approaches to program evaluation processes…I strongly recommend this book for any nonprofit organization, but especially to those who are just getting started.”

Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology
Shaunette Parker, Ph.D.
Clinical Assistant, Professor of Psychology, Lander University


“This text would be a very useful addition to any nonprofit leader’s library.”

Journal of Social Work
Heidi Brocius
Professor, School of Social Work, University of Alaska


Collage of items from the Evaluation into Action Store
Check out the Evaluation into Action Store. I put some of my favorite Evaluation into Action illustrations and sayings on mugs, stainless steel tumblers, t-shirts, stickers and tote bags. These make great gifts as well as conference swag. You can also treat yourself to any of these items. If you don’t see what you want, let me know and I can make it happen.

Evaluation into Action Store

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, Path Home

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