EVALUATING YOUR PERFORMANCE:
How to Tell If Your Organization is Doing Things Right and Doing the Right Things
Do you ever wonder how well your organization is performing, if you’re making a real difference, or if you could do better? It is critically important for all nonprofit conservation and environmental organizations to periodically assess their programs and operating procedures, and to honestly ask: Are we doing things right, and are we doing the right things?
Southern Conservation Partners is willing to help your organization to evaluate its programs and operations, and to chart a course for building a stronger organization and planning for your future. Contact us directly to confer on how we may be able directly to help your organization.
Below we introduce you to resources for organizational self-assessment and evaluation tools offered by other service centers.
The Organizational Capacity Assessment Tool (OCAT) [ www.mckinseyonsociety.com/ocat ]
is a free online means for non-profit organizations to assess their operational capacity and identify strengths or areas for improvement. The tool produced by the McKinsey Society is FREE of charge and is used monthly by several thousand nonprofit organizations. It is an in-depth, online survey that allows a combination of a non-profit organization's key staff, board members, and other leaders to measure how well their organization performs, measured on best practices. Participants in the anonymous on-line survey are asked to provide their views of how well the organization performs along ten dimensions. The survey requires about 1.5 hours of time for a respondent. Once the survey is complete, a report is generated providing an aggregate view of how the respondents believe the organization is performing in areas including effectiveness of mission and strategy, management, sustainable funding, marketing, innovation, strategy-setting, effective advocacy and public outreach, healthy relationships among staff and board, and more. The OCAT serves as a good foundation on which to launch discussions and decision-making about actions to make an organization stronger. The OCAT may be most effectively used in combination with other assessment tools (like those produced by River Network or the Land Trust Alliance), which are more focused on more specific land or river protection programs and practices.
For land conservation organizations, the national Land Trust Alliance and its Land Trust Accreditation Commission developed a self-assessment measurement of performance related to Land Trust Standards and Practices, and an intensive process of accreditation by which member groups can be formally certified as meeting the industry’s operating standards. Nearly a third of America’s land conservation organizations have each invested the thousands of dollars of costs and many hundreds of hours in staff and volunteer time to attain accreditation.
The Land Trust Alliance's downloadable workbook, "Assessing Your Organization," is a great tool that can be used by a conventional land conservation organization to evaluate those portions of its operations relevant to the national code of Land Trust Standards and Practices. (The Land Trust Alliance also has an online self-assessment tool, but it can only be used by member organizations.)
Many smaller land conservation groups, large multi-purpose organizations, and groups focused on protection of water quality, biodiversity or other environmental resources find that the Land Trust Alliance’s accreditation process does not fit their needs, interests, time and financial resources. What alternative tools are available to them to assess and evaluate their operations and performance?
River Network, a national organization, has developed an assessment tool and resources that may be useful to both river protection groups and other environmental and land conservation organizations. Any organization can use River Network’s organizational assessment tool; it does not need to be a member of the national association. This assessment is more applicable for use by an organization that is oriented to water/watershed protection and restoration work. The two-part, online assessment is free-of-charge to anyone. Explore the tool here.
River Network advises the following:
Evaluating the effectiveness of a program or system often occurs sporadically or not at all. Evaluation and tracking is vital for developing the next year’s work plan, budget, fundraising plan, and overall goals and should be incorporated into the development of a plan or program. Take these steps to set yourself and your organization up for success in the long-run:
Other useful information: