Measuring Program Success (Part I)

Hey everyone,

Today I’m talking about one of the toughest questions you’ll see on many grant proposals: “How do you measure your success?” I’m here to tell you that any program can measure success, and all programs should! Helping nonprofits formulate their quantitative plan is one of my all-time favorite parts of writing the grant proposal. I even had a corporate grantor reach out to me about one of my clients and say it’s “so great that you have actionable, measurable goals!”

This is another series (split into 2 posts) where we’re going to dive in depth on what it means to have a successful program!

Before diving into the question itself, think about your program and what would make sense to measure. Usually you can find at least 5 categories. For example, if you’re running a youth program, what have your enrollment numbers looked like year over year? How many children continue to return? How many are from underserved communities?

Taking it a step further, think about the outcomes you want to achieve and how that translates to the individuals you serve. For an arts program, you may want to assess where a person feels they are in the development of this skill before and after the class, as well as key core competencies like confidence, self-esteem and arts knowledge.

Once you’ve put together your list of outcomes, start thinking about how to measure these indicators. Oftentimes the easiest way is a survey, and there are plenty of free options for developing those. Survey Monkey tends to be the one my clients most often use. As you’re developing the questions, make sure all these outcomes are included.

In the next part of the series, we’ll dive into how to look at these outcomes analytically and what they can mean for your grant proposals. In the mean time, feel free to ask any questions you have about survey building!

Janet Gonzales