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Most nonprofits conduct some kind of program evaluation, whether it’s simply keeping track of how many people have been directly helped by an organization’s services or complex multi-year studies of a program’s effects on the larger community. There is a wealth of resources out there for a nonprofit looking to design a logic model or define indicators, and lots of smart people have plenty to say about program evaluation as a discipline.
But at Idealware, we’ve noticed that very little has been said about how software can fit into and support a nonprofit’s program evaluation strategy.
With the launch of our new report, Understanding Software for Program Evaluation, we hope to start that conversation in earnest. We threw ourselves into research, and convened a group of experts hailing from both the program evaluation and the nonprofit technology sectors to create this comprehensive guide to the types of software organizations are most likely to use to evaluate their programs.
So what did we find? For one thing, there really isn’t an all-in-one solution for program evaluation software — data about your programs most likely lives in a few different places within your organization’s software. Program evaluation is a strategy, not a tool, but we were able to identify a number of tools that could help with that strategy.
Using our existing research into the nonprofit technology sector and exploration into new areas, as well, we were able to categorize software types based on the roles they play in an organization’s strategy. From that list, we defined five separate kinds of software for program evaluation, organized by function:
There’s a lot more in the report, including information on how these software categories relate to each other and easy-to-understand information on how systems available from TechSoup can support a program evaluation strategy.
As with all of Idealware’s reports, it’s free to download from our website. Share your own thoughts about program evaluation strategies and the tools you use to support them in the comments — let’s keep the conversation going. We can’t wait to hear what you think.
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.
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