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Topical Resource Lists

Evaluation for Nonprofit Organizations

The following bibliography was created to help grantmakers and grantseekers keep up with the latest developments in nonprofit evaluation. This resource list contains citations to selected works from the Foundation Center's Catalog of Nonprofit Literature, as well as links to useful Web resources. For additional reports, articles, and other materials on the topic, search the Catalog with the keywords "evaluation" or "assessment."


Bartczak, Lori, ed. A Funder’s Guide to Organizational Assessment: Tools, Processes, and Their Use in Building Capacity. St. Paul, MN: Fieldstone Alliance, 2005. Call Number: 528 BAR
In this book, primarily directed to grantmakers with an interest in furthering capacity-building, a variety of assessment tools are presented and explained. Part 1 of the book provides tools that funders can utilize in evaluating the work of their grantees; Part 2 focuses on the work of grantmakers themselves, offering techniques for appraising their own efforts.

Berman, Evan M. Performance and Productivity in Public and Nonprofit Organizations. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe Inc., 2006. Call Number: 604 BER PER
This guide offers practical strategies for assessing and improving organizational productivity and responsiveness. Some of the topics covered include information technology, planning, accountability issues, partnerships, project management, and cost reduction.

Breakthroughs in Shared Measurement and Social Impact. FSG Social Impact Advisors, 2009
Explores methods for evaluating performance and outcomes across multiple organizations so that complicated issues can be addressed more efficiently and effectively at the field level.
Full text available.

Building a Common Outcome Framework to Measure Nonprofit Performance. Washington, DC: Urban Institute. Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy, 2006. Subject File Number: 660
The work described in this report provides suggested core indicators for 14 categories of nonprofit organizations and expands the notion of common core indicators to a much wider variety of programs by suggesting a common framework of outcome indicators for all nonprofit programs. This can provide guidance to nonprofits as they figure out what to measure and how to do it.
Full text available

The Convio Online Marketing Nonprofit Benchmark Index Study. Austin, TX: Convio Inc, 2008. Subject File Number: 676
This report explores which aspects of online marketing nonprofit organizations should emphasize. Analyzes web site traffic, online registrations, and response to fundraising e-mail appeals from 419 organizations of various sizes and missions. Data is meant to provide a scale against which other organizations can measure themselves.
Full text available

Doing Good Today and Better Tomorrow: a Roadmap to High Impact Philanthropy Through Outcome-Focused Grantmaking. Menlo Park, CA: William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, 2009. Subject File Number: 519
Describes current efforts to implement a new decision-making process called outcome-focused grantmaking (OFG) and explores the outlook for the application of this model.
Full text available

Evaluating Communication Campaigns. Princeton, NJ: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2009.
This report summarizes a conference held at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to discuss successful strategies to evaluate communication campaigns. The discussion of public health communication programs, including an examination of special problems, major principles of communication evaluation and alternative evaluation designs also provided an overview of policy communication evaluations, outlining effective strategies and lessons learned.
Full text available

Evaluation in Philanthropy: Perspectives From the Field. Washington, DC: Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, 2009.
Provides an overview of how evaluation can help grantmakers improve their organizational learning and effectiveness. The analysis is based on a literature review and feedback from foundations that have made evaluation a priority. The report includes examples of emerging approaches for organizational learning.
Full text available

Festen, Marcia and Marianne Philbin. Level Best: How Small and Grassroots Nonprofits Can Tackle Evaluation and Talk Results. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, 2006. Call Number: 670 FES
A primer outlining the primary steps for evaluation, providing planning tools and samples. One chapter is devoted to analyzing, interpreting, and sharing the data that the evaluation has measured.

Grace, Kay Sprinkel, McClellan, Amy, and John A. Yankey. The Nonprofit Board's Role in Mission, Planning, and Evaluation. Washington, DC: BoardSource, 2009. Call Number: 610 BOA GOV 2008 Book 5
Discusses the importance of an organization's mission, vision, and values. Describes how to develop a mission statement, explaining how it guides an organization's various activities. Defines strategic planning and evaluation, explaining why board members should be involved with both. Contains brief chapters on evaluating programs and organizational effectiveness.

Hubbell, Gary J. and Mark K. Reinders. Lessons From Benchmarking: Fast-Forwarding the Maturity of the Fundraising Operation. Milwaukee, WI: Hubbell and Reinders, 2007. Call Number: 700 HUB
The booklet explores how nonprofits can improve fundraising efforts by applying benchmarking practices. Citing evidence from research, including examples from the health care field, the authors identify success factors and areas where nonprofits should invest their resources for maximum impact.

Keehley, Patricia and Neil N. Abercrombie. Benchmarking in the Public and Nonprofit Sectors: Best Practices for Achieving Performance Breakthroughs. 2nd ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass Publishers, 2008. Call Number: 670 KEE
Discusses key issues related to benchmarking, including accountability, performance measurement, benchmarking methods, and benchmarking in specific settings.

Kramer, Mark, Graves, Rebecca, Hirschhorn, Jason, and Leigh Fiske. From Insight to Action: New Directions in Foundation Evaluation. Boston, MA: FSG Social Impact Advisors, 2007. Subject File Number: 528
Based on nearly 100 interviews with foundation leaders and evaluation experts, this report identifies a fundamental transition in the way grantmakers use evaluation. The authors determined that foundations are moving beyond traditional third-party outcome studies toward more performance-centered approaches that can provide current information and lead to realistic practices, based on actual examples.
Full text available

Lim, Terence. Measuring the Value of Corporate Philanthropy: Social Impact, Business Benefits, and Investor Returns. New York: Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy. 2010. Call Number: 438 LIM
Provides an overview of key concepts and approaches to corporate philanthropy, and explores common questions related to giving programs. Section one examines how grantees can demonstrate results to giving officers by focusing on impact evaluation, outcomes measurement, and cost-benefit analyses. Section two explains how the corporate giving officer can make the business case to the chief executive, noting increased customer loyalty, employee engagement, and other opportunities. Section three describes how the chief executive can demonstrate shareholder value in corporate philanthropy to investors.
Full text available

Mattessich, Paul W., Hendricks, Shelly, and Ross VeLure Roholt. Information Gold Mine: Innovative Uses of Evaluation. Saint Paul, MN: Fieldstone Alliance, 2007. Call Number: 670 MAT INF
A guide to using evaluation results in three key ways: improving programs and services, influencing policy and legislation, and marketing the organization. Gives examples of evaluation use from fourteen nonprofit organizations.

McGarvey, Craig. Making Measures Work For You: Outcomes and Evaluation. New York, NY: GrantCraft, 2006. Call Number: 519 GRA MAK
A concise primer on outcomes evaluation, including a case study.
Full text available

Molloy, Laurel A. Finally - Outcome Measurement Strategies Anyone Can Understand. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Innovations Quantified, 2010. Call Number: 670 MOL
This handbook provides practical guidance on developing an effective outcome measurement plan. Chapters cover logic models, indicators, data collection, and data usage. Includes exercises, a glossary and worksheets.

Mott, Andrew. Community Foundations' Effectiveness and Impact: Lessons From Other Funders and Nonprofits. Washington, DC: Aspen Institute, 2006. Subject File Number: 548
Mott explores program evaluation, grantmaking strategies, and leadership roles, drawing on the experiences of other foundations and nonprofits. He analyzes the ways that community foundations can incorporate these well-studied approaches.

Niven, Paul R. Balanced Scorecard Step-by-Step For Government and Not-for-Profit Agencies. 2nd ed. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2008. Call Number: 670 NIV
The Balanced Scorecard is an evaluation tool that has gained popularity in the nonprofit sphere after years of use in the business sector. Niven explains the details of the system, how to implement it, and ways to enlist support for the effort from all levels of the organization. The final section of the book explains how to disseminate and use the results, and provides a case study from the city of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Patrizi, Patricia. The Evaluation Conversation: a Path to Impact for Foundation Boards and Executives. New York, NY: Foundation Center, 2006. Call Number: 510 FC PRA #10
Patrizi urges grantmakers to rethink the role of evaluation in philanthropy and turn it into a vital institutional tool to achieve philanthropic purpose and improve strategy.
Full text available

Penna, Robert M. The Nonprofit Outcomes Toolbox : a Complete Guide to Program Effectiveness, Performance Measurement, and Results. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2011. Call Number: 670 PEN NON
Book is divided into four parts. "The Basics" is intended for those new to the use of outcomes, and provides a refresher on underlying concepts; "Working With Outcomes" examines specific applications of concepts and also covers planning, organizational capacity assessment, and outcome-based communications; "Advanced Tools" introduces readers to corporate, for-profit concepts that have application to the social action of nonprofits; and "Other Tools and Perspectives" provides alternative methodologies and viewpoints.

Penna, Robert M. and William J. Phillips. Outcome Frameworks: An Overview for Practitioners. Rensselaerville, NY: Rensselaerville Institute, 2004. Call Number: 670 PEN
The book provides descriptions of the primary evaluation models that executives can utilize to assess programs, along with guidance on how to select among them.

Price, Susan Crites and Alice Buhl. Current Practices in Family Foundations : a Study in Support of the Pursuit of Excellence Assessment Process. Washington, DC: National Center for Family Philanthropy, 2010. Subject File Number: 514
The first-ever survey of family foundation practices, intended as benchmarking information to aid foundations in improving their performance.

The Program Manager's Guide to Evaluation. Washington, DC: Administration on Children, Youth and Families, 2004. Call Number: 670 ADM
Full text available.

Salamon, Lester M.; Geller, Stephanie L.; and Kasey L. Mengel. Communiqué No. 17 : Nonprofits, Innovation, and Performance Measurement : Separating Fact From Fiction. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University. Center for Civil Society Studies. Institute for Policy Studies, 2010.
Presents findings from a national survey conducted in early 2010 that examined innovation and evaluation in nonprofit organizations.
Full text available

Saul, Jason. Benchmarking for Nonprofits: How to Measure, Manage, and Improve Performance. St. Paul, MN: Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, 2004. Call Number: 670 SAU
Includes exercises and worksheets that illustrate the process.

Taking Stock : Evaluating the Impact of Education Grants. Portland, OR: Grantmakers for Education, 2009. Subject File Number: 210
Summarizes the information from a member briefing of Grantmakers for Education, discussing how funders can maximize their use of evaluation tools to determine the effectiveness of education grants.
Full text available

Vickers, Donn F. and Kelly Stevelt Kaser. Evaluating Your Executive : New Approaches, New Purposes. Columbus, OH: Academy for Leadership and Governance, 2006. Call Number: 610 VIC
Provides worksheets and other assessment instruments related to 15 distinct options for evaluation of the head of a nonprofit.

Wells, Michael K. Successful Program Evaluation. Portland, OR: Portland State University, 2007. Call Number: 770 WEL SUC
Provides an overview of program evaluation and explains how to develop the evaluation section in grant proposals.

What's the Difference? How Foundation Trustees View Evaluation. Boston, MA: FSG Social Impact Advisors. 2009. Subject File Number: 528.
Explores perspectives on evaluation, based on interviews with foundation board members, chief executives, and other experts.

Wholey, Joseph S, Harry P. Hatry, and Kathryn E. Newcomer, eds. Handbook of Practical Program Evaluation. 3rd ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 2010. Call Number: 670 WHO 2010
This book is designed to enable students of public policy, policymakers and managers to conduct successful systematic evaluations, even under tight resource constraints. Divided into sections on evaluation planning and design, practical data collection procedures, data analysis, and usage of evaluation. The new edition also puts increased emphasis on practical applicability. Specialists contribute to each chapter.

Wolk, Andrew; Dholakia, Anand; and Kelley Kreitz. Building a Performance Measurement System : Using Data to Accelerate Social Impact. Cambridge, MA: Root Cause, 2009. Call Number: 670 WOL
How to plan, implement, and utilize an evaluation system.
Full text available

York, Peter. A Funder’s Guide to Evaluation: Leveraging Evaluation to Improve Nonprofit Effectiveness. St. Paul, MN: Fieldstone Alliance, 2005. Call Number: 528 YOR
Evaluation is one capacity-building tool that funders can put into practice, and the book explains how the process can be implemented. Noting that both nonprofits and foundations benefit from this management tool, York provides step-by-step methods and many sample worksheets for assessing grantees.


Barr, Kate. "Local Conditions Vary : Assessing Your Nonprofit's Financial Position." Nonprofit Quarterly vol. 16 (Winter 2009) p. 48-9.
The executive director of the Nonprofit Assistance Fund provides a helpful tool for determining an organization's financial health and risk levels.

Boice, Jacklyn P. "Getting Down to Business." Advancing Philanthropy vol. 12 (May 2005): p. 16-23.
The article surveys the variety of opinions on the trend toward corporate practices for nonprofits, considering if there are drawbacks as well as advantages for the sector. Some question how well the field can measure the societal impact of nonprofits, at the same time that award programs are being established to do just that. The extent to which business criteria can be utilized to measure performance is debated by several leaders in the field.

Bosma, Linda M.; Matter, Chris; Martinez, Jaime; Toves, Nicole; and Joannee D'Silva. "Designing an Evaluation of a New Initiative : a Practical Approach to Ensure Evaluation Use." The Foundation Review vol. 2 (Issue 2, 2010) p. 28-38.
This article describes the process of planning an evaluation of the Tribal Tobacco Education and Policy initiative.

Dalton, Francie. "Metrics-Based Management." Journal of Association Leadership vol. 3 (Summer 2005) p. 44-63. Subject File Number: 690
Dalton presents the principles of this system of assessment that senior executives can implement to evaluate and reward performance.

Hwalek, Melanie and Mary Grcich Williams. "The Real-Time Evaluation Memo : a Tool for Enabling Evaluative Thinking and Learning in Foundations and Nonprofits." The Foundation Review vol. 2 (Issue #3, 2011) p. 25-35.
The authors report on the experience of the Lumina Foundation for Education, which uses quarterly data-based feedback memos rather than a traditional evaluation report. Memo topics include stakeholder feedback on request for proposals (RFPs), assumptions uncovered during planning meetings, and criteria for key decisions. Article describes the genesis, characteristics and purposes of these types of memos, and provides tips on constructing them. Pitfalls are also listed: for example, memos do not provide the kind of summative information that board members and other stakeholders may require.

Margolin, Judith B. "Organizational Evaluation : Funders Want to Know That You Know Yourself". NonProfit Times vol. 22 (15 May 2008) p. 19-20. Subject File Number: 670
A concise article that explains organizational assessments and briefly discusses the evaluation component of a grant proposal.

Mayer, Steven E. "Wanted : Better Evaluation Practices for a Better Philanthropy." Responsive Philanthropy (Fall 2010) p. 3-5. Subject File Number: 670
The author argues that current methods of evaluation and of philanthropy as a whole stress small, short-term progress too heavily, while neglecting the bigger picture of systematic problems that create the need for philanthropy. He offers a series of suggested steps toward developing evaluation methods with a more long-reaching scope.

Meyer, Larry. "Going Deeper : Can Investigative Reporters Add Value to Assessment and Evaluation?." The Foundation Review vol. 1 (Issue 4, 2010) p. 45-52.
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation added to its standard evaluation approach by hiring professional journalists to elaborate on evaluation findings, with the goal of increasing awareness by external audiences. The resulting reports were more direct than prior efforts, and produced deeper analyses into the intent and outcome of major initiatives. Still, the plan did not reach the desired external audiences.

Mims, Robert. "Benchmarking When All Things Are Not Equal." Exempt vol. 4 (January-February 2006) p. 6, 8, 15, 19. Subject File Number: 670
The typical benchmarks for nonprofits--revenue, program efficiency, fundraising costs, and compensation of executives--can give a misleading picture without other comparisons, according to the author.

Morariu, Johanna and Kathleen Brennan. "Effective Advocacy Evaluation : the Role of Funders." The Foundation Review vol. 1 (Issue 3, 2009) p. 100-8. Subject File Number: 528.
The authors' research indicates that most organizations involved in advocacy work have not adopted procedures for evaluating the effectiveness of their efforts. The inherent difficulties in assessing the success of advocacy remain a deterrent to both funders and grantees. The article concludes that funders need to lead the way in both encouraging evaluation and in educating agencies how to do it.

Mott, Andrew. "Hand in Hand : Evaluation and Organizational Development." Nonprofit Quarterly vol. 13 (Spring 2006) p. 42-4, 46-7.
Mott recommends that funders build in the costs of evaluation into their grants, and suggests methods for both external and internal evaluation processes.

Neuhoff, Alex and Robert Searle. "More Bang for the Buck." Stanford Social Innovation Review vol. 6 (Spring 2008) p. 32-7.
The authors offer pointers on how nonprofits can increase and measure productivity within their organizations, thereby improving the outcomes of their services. Four key steps are identified: standardizing best practices; investing in staff and critical issues; managing costs aggressively; and measuring progress. The article explores the work of Teach for America, Jumpstart, and Year Up as examples of nonprofits who have significantly improved the quality of their programs by increasing productivity.
Full text available

Patton, Michael Quinn. "Evaluation For the Way We Work." Nonprofit Quarterly vol. 13 (Spring 2006) p. 28-33.
Patton differentiates between "traditional" and "developmental" evaluations, arguing that the latter are more productive and positive in fostering change.

Preston, Caroline. "Making a Measurable Difference." Chronicle of Philanthropy vol. 21 (13 November 2008) p. 13-5.
Profiles the efforts of software entrepreneur and former nonprofit worker Steve Butz, who is developing an evaluation tool to assess the effectiveness of charities' social service programs. Butz's assessment tool is said to be less complex than those developed in past efforts, and may be easier for nonprofits to adopt on a larger scale.

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