The shift toward accountability

Nonprofits must demonstrate the impact of the organization’s work. Depending on the mission, impact can be examined as it pertains to clients, the community, the problem, and even on the world. I remember a time when no one asked us to demonstrate impact. Instead, we spent the grants on specified programs, counted participants, tracked funding and, at the end of the day, called it successful.

In recent years, funders and partners are calling for more information about the impact of the work they are funding—looking at the outcomes of our work, rather than the outputs.

Outputs tell the story of organization’s activities

Examples include:

how many students attended after-school tutoring,

how many houses did you build, etc.

Outcomes measure the impact of those outputs on the clients or community

Examples include:

student achievement increased by 10% after one year of after-school tutoring sessions

24 adults and 47 children moved into stable, affordable and safe housing

Means of Evaluation

Your evaluation should have a rubric to identify topics and provide a rating scale.

A rubric is the criteria by which a particular score is awarded. This scale could be a simple numeric one, such as a number from one to five.  The scale could also utilize descriptive words such as  Not Present, Needs Improvement, Fully in Place, Effective, Highly Effective, etc.

Once you have your evaluative scale, look at topics to assess.

Evaluation Process

Start with your mission and vision statements.


If the mission and vision statements are reflective of the current work of your organization does, award them with a score of  Effective or Four.

If the mission and vision statements are the same as they were 20 years ago, a score of Needs Improvement or Two might be more appropriate.

Then examine your organizational goals to assess progress. Look at the strategies you use to deliver your organization’s services. Again, use your evaluative scale with these indicators.

Prepare for evaluation results by including a process for making changes in your evaluation plans. Knowing you have a plan for addressing negative evaluation results will be comforting to all parties.