Teaching 30 nonprofits the skills to do evaluation well themselves

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How we partnered with The Summit Foundation to bring a 3-part evaluation training series to Summit County


 
 

Hearing grantees request education around how to actually design and analyze an evaluation, The Summit Foundation responded by partnering with us. Learn more about what we were able to accomplish together.

 
 

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Introducing The Summit Foundation

The Summit Foundation exists to inspire people and mobilize resources to improve and enrich the lives of individuals in Summit County and the neighboring communities. In addition to providing grants to local nonprofits, they also offer a variety of services through their NRG Program—Nonprofit Resources for Grantees—aimed at enhancing the leadership and capacity of the local nonprofits, while offering essential partnerships and expertise. One of the facets of this program is its workshops, where they bring in experts to cover a range of important topics.


 

What they did

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Customize a training to give the nonprofit community the skills they are asking for

Listening to the nonprofits in the community, the Summit Foundation heard a desire for more training around evaluation. The general sense was that while they understand the basics and importance of evaluation, their skills are in running a program, not in how to evaluate it.

Nonprofits were looking for training that moved beyond theory and definitions to get into the meat of evaluation: how do they actually plan and execute an evaluation, and do it well?

We collaborated with the foundation team to develop a 3-part evaluation training series. Approximately 30 nonprofit organizations came to participate.

 
Vantage Evaluation really went beyond what I’ve seen in other evaluation trainings. They made evaluation approachable–changing our perspective of what ‘evaluation’ means and how to approach it, and giving us the proper tools to actually implement it.
— Megan Nuttelman // Director of Donor Relations, The Summit Foundation
 

 

How we did it together

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Three-part workshop series tailored to these 30 participants

Three sessions were spread across four months, giving the participants time to weave what they learned into their day-to-day work and come back ready to build upon each foundational block. The sessions focused on these topics: 1) Key evaluation questions; 2) Survey design and analysis; 3) Qualitative design and analysis.

  • Ask for feedback and address it.

    Practicing what we preach, we evaluated each session and evolved the following session based on what we heard to best meet the specific needs of this group.

  • Learn by doing.

    Ample time was allowed for hands-on practice applying what was just discussed to a real evaluation project for their organization, empowering each participant to fully absorb and implement what they learned.

  • Access to expertise outside of the training.

    We made ourselves available as a resource between and after the trainings, so each participant could continue to make progress applying what they learned.

  • One-on-one attention.

    With many Vantage Evaluation trainers in the room, participants were able to troubleshoot questions directly with an expert if they got stuck.

 
Vantage Evaluation is so easy to work with. They were very responsive, happy to answer questions, and driven to make sure we were fully satisfied.
— Megan Nuttelman // Director of Donor Relations, The Summit Foundation
 

 

The Results

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New skills and relationships expand the participants’ capacity to do evaluation on their own

The attendees felt this training was exactly what they were looking for: a workshop series that taught them actionable skills with hands-on support to overcome any intimidating pieces.

  • Inspired a can-do attitude. Participants felt confident in their own evaluation abilities after learning so many core evaluation skills that could be immediately acted upon.

  • Built skills in designing better surveys and analyzing them. Attendees learned how to get much more out of their survey efforts with a focus on simple, significant details, like how to word the questions and what order to put them in.

  • Supported confidence in conducting and analyzing focus groups and interviews. Diving beyond the quantitative and into the qualitative presented participants with new and exciting opportunities to learn about and evaluate their programs.

 
The idea that key evaluation questions should get at the heart of ‘what keeps me up at night / what I really want to know about my organization’... that was a breakthrough for me!
— Training participant from Breckenridge, Colorado
 
 

 

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