Evaluating What Makes Your Organization Special

This is the third in our series of posts about evaluation and how you are can be evaluating your success to increase your grant seeking success and reporting on your grant-funded work. If you missed the first posts, don’t miss reading What’s In Your Evaluation Toolbox and Gathering Evaluation Data.


One of the great joys of doing evaluation work with nonprofits is having an opportunity to let staff, volunteers, and board members know what people of think of them. It’s often a wonderful time to let people who are very humble, who do amazing work with little positive feedback know the impact they are having on their clients and their community. Here are four different ways to help tell your organization’s story through evaluation data.

4 Questions to Help Determine What Makes Your Organization Special


1. What are your demographics and how does your organization stand out? I find Data USA (datausa.io) to be a great tool when developing a needs statement or a narrative about the community that an organization serves. Data USA uses census data to create a city/county/state profiles. There is also a comparison option so that you can do a compare and contrast search to see how you fare in relation to your neighboring county/state demographic/national demographic data. The infographics make the site user-friendly and the data is clear, concise and can be readily used for grants and other reports.

2. How do you compare to your colleague organizations? Organizations such as United Way of America, Girl Scouts of America, and Feeding America keep a warehouse of data for their member organizations that can be extremely helpful to determine how an organization is performing as compared to similar groups. In June 2017, BDO United States released the findings from a survey they did in conjunction with Nonprofit Times. The survey outlines nonprofit performance in strategic planning, operations, scope and impact, human resources and governance. Using this type of benchmark data can be extremely useful in identifying gaps in service areas, making a case for starting a new program based upon the success in other communities, or identifying an organizational strength and leveraging this for funding support.


3. What longitudinal data do you have? Conducting a document review of annual reports and culling the reports for data (number of people served, demographics of people service, amount of money raised, etc. and turning the data into a visual testament to the work your organization does can be compelling for grant applications and annual reports. Using a free infographic tool from sites such as BeFunky, The Canvas Print, Visme, Snappa, Canva Infographic Maker or Google Charts can be a very effective way to get your organization’s story across to others in a visually engaging format.


4. What tools do you use in evaluation activities? One compelling way to engage your stakeholders in evaluation activities is to use Photovoice. Photovoice is a qualitative evaluation methodology that uses photography to capture stakeholders ideas for social change. Photovoice asks stakeholders to photograph information (e.g. what they like, what they don’t like, and what they want to change) about their lives/community. This material is a compelling complement to other quantitative data you may have gathered. Beverly Palibroda with Brigette Krieg, Lisa Murdock, and Joanne Havelock’s  PHOTOVOICE: SHARINGPICTURES, TELLING STORIES AND CHANGING COMMUNITIES is a great guide for setting up a Photovoice project for your organization.



Evaluation data informs best practices, affirms an organizational mission, identifies areas for improvement, and documents organizational performance and impact.  It can tell the story with a plurality of voices, visually document a rich history of service and illustrate why your organization is critical to the community you serve.

What other questions do you look at when you are building the story about what makes your organization special? We’d love to hear! Share with us in the comments below or drop us an email at info@ dhleonardconsulting.com. 


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