Program Evaluation for Non-Profit Organization
An organization needs to put in place an evaluation process to ascertain whether it is accomplishing its goals or not. Such evaluation would then become a very important part of the ensuing planning process. There are two ways in which an organization conducts an evaluation.
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One is intended to proceed with the evaluation through the goals established by the organization. The other is to conduct the evaluation through the processes in place in the organization.
With goal-based evaluation, the organization seeks to understand whether the avowed goals have been achieved or exceeded. It has an emphasis on outputs instead of processes. Even with limited resources and difficult situations, the goal-based evaluation looks at the outputs based on the inputs and other raw materials put into the process. It is usually useful for organizations that are beating deadlines, or seeking to meet targets given limited resources, time, and manpower. Results are given primacy in this kind of evaluation (Edvardsson & Hansson, 2003).
Process-based evaluation focuses on efficiency and effectiveness. It is geared towards minimizing costs while ensuring that the goals are achieved. With this kind of evaluation, the goals to be achieved are given and are expected to be delivered. In doing so, the organization is freed from looking at the achievement of the goals because such is expected. What the organization is focusing on, however, is the way that the goals are being achieved.
Are they effective and efficient? Are they contributing to the overall objectives of the organization? Is there a way that such processes could be improved and geared to help the organization achieve more? Are the policies of the organization sound and the different departments coordinating smoothly with each other? Through these questions, the organization is taking a look at the way in which it can achieve its goals by improving its processes. The goals are important but processes are more important in certain respects because of their systemic nature. Depending on the circumstances, however, a goal-based organization may be more important than a process-oriented one (Ott, 2001).
In addition to this, process-based evaluation takes a look at the policies, programs, coordination systems, and other processes at work in the organization. It makes use of a systemic view of the organization and seeks to integrate every important aspect of the organization in the evaluation process. It is more comprehensive than goal-based evaluation as it may take more time to be completed (Ott, 2001).
Application of Evaluation Styles
Goal-based evaluation may be more appropriate in situations where the non-profit organization is evaluating together with their clientele. In the case of an organization dedicated to community development, a goal-based evaluation would be suitable for a discussion with the community regarding the achievements of the goals. Usually, if the goals are not accomplished or achieved, the people, together with the non-profit organization can brainstorm on the problems that are being faced by the community.
In addition to this, it would be important to evaluate themselves about the hindrances that they face in accomplishing the goals identified during the planning phase. Goal-based evaluation also looks at the actual outputs of the organization’s project. If the project is about reducing the number of substance addicts in the neighborhood, then a goal-based evaluation would say that the program is successful if there is a significant decline in the number of offenders.
On the other hand, process-based evaluation would take a look at the overall systemic performance of the organization. Even if the results are phenomenal if the processes are not firmly in place, then such an evaluation would be careful in proclaiming success. It would look at the coordination systems, the teamwork of the organization, as well as the ethical side of things. With such an evaluation, it becomes important to look at the overall strategy of the organization instead of simply focusing on achieved goals (Ott, 2001).
Establishing the Framework of a New Nonprofit Organization
As a new Executive Director of a nonprofit organization, there are several things I need to do in order to ensure that the organization is setup and would thrive in the process. Without the necessary legal and financial framework, the nonprofit organization is bound to fail. The following strategies outline what needs to be done for this organization.
The first step, of course, would be to define what the organization is all about—the kinds of services to be offered and the way it will be structured. The vision, mission, and goals of the organization have to be defined. The structure, on the other hand, would enable the organization to achieve its goals.
Registration and Legal Personality
The nonprofit organization should acquire its legal personality by being registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission or its equivalent. Through this, the nonprofit organization will be able to transact legally under the laws of the country and will be able to purchase property and open accounts under its own name. This also prevents unscrupulous persons to setup accounts and secure properties in their own names at the expense of the organization. With a legal personality, however, also comes responsibility. As such, the organization may sue persons and it can also be sued. It therefore needs to comply with legal requirements of organizations.
The nonprofit organization also needs legal and financial advisers so that it would not violate any law or ordinance even accidentally. A legal counsel would be needed. Although there are lawyers offering pro-bono services, it would also be a good idea to include the lawyer’s fee in the budget of the organization.
As part of the strategy of the organization, the Executive director also needs to look for sources of funding from different organizations. Private corporations and even countries do fund initiatives for development. It takes a careful research of these organizations. Without a steady source of funding, the organization will not prosper and will only flounder if there is no steady funding.
As part of the financial framework of the organization, there should also be a means to ensure transparency and accountability. This would be important in ensuring that the donors trust the organization and for the organization to adhere to governmental rules such as Sarbanes-Oxley. Although SOX, as Sarbanes-Oxley is called, was meant for companies for profit, it has provisions for non-profit organizations. Adhering to these accounting regulations can also help in enhancing the overall strategy, integrity, and transparency of the organization.
Edvardsson, K. & Hansson, S. O. (2003). When is a goal rational?. Social Choice and Welfare, 24 (2), 343-361.
Ott, J. S. (2001). The Nature of the Nonprofit Sector. New York: Westview Press.