Lack of funding impedes evaluation

While almost all nonprofits produce reports or host site visits for funders, only about one in three engage in any formal performance measurement, a new report says.

Nonprofit staff and boards generally have no objection to such evaluation, but lack of funding and resources are often barriers, the N.C. Institute for Nonprofits at N.C. State University concluded from a recent survey.

The Institute surveyed almost 300 North Carolina nonprofits that receive foundation grants and found that nine in 10 engage in some form of reporting to satisfy external funders.

More than two in three collect data on demographics, program outcomes and consumer satisfaction, the study says, but only about one in three use any formal performance-measurement systems.

More than half of nonprofits say a lack of funding is a barrier to evaluation, while slightly fewer cite a lack of staff or time and fewer than one in 10 say there is any resistance to evaluation from staff or board members.

However, many nonprofits are finding ways to boost their evaluation efforts, with more than six in 10 saying they have increased such efforts over the last several years.

Among groups who do conduct evaluations, the vast majority do so for purposes of accountability to their funders or boards, the study says.

Slightly fewer say they use such information to alter programs, set goals or conduct strategic planning.

Responsibility for evaluation generally falls to members of the executive management team, the report says.

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