Society has many problems that both philanthropists and non-profit organizations seek to overcome. With limited resources, funders want to ensure that their programs have a maximum positive effect on a given community so that the funder’s name is associated with a successful program, rather than a failed one. While seemingly cold and blunt, evaluations ensure that the maximum resources go to those who need them.
Outcome based evaluation focuses on if the organization or program is succeeding. Outcome based evaluation often shows up when evaluating non-profit organizations because funders have limited resources and community needs are continually growing. Organizations that produce results should receive continual funding, while organizations that do not produce results draw resources away from organizations that have the potential to show more results with greater funding. When assessing an organization, the funder must consider the target of the organization’s philanthropy and reasonable outcomes for the organization’s programs. Then, funders can empirically assess if a program is working.
Some organizations are functioning properly, but are not producing results yet because of a lack of funding or another roadblock. Examining the process through which the organization functions can help funders decide if the organization should receive assistance.
Some funders can provide advice to the organization regarding various processes. For example, if an organization staffs too many workers at a drug abuse call center and not enough workers at another location with a greater drug abuse cliental, funders can advise that the organization transfer some of its workers. The process evaluation also ensures that the organization’s processes are carried out correctly.
There are cases in which organizations provide additional services above and beyond the projected outcomes. The funder should be prepared to record these additional services and must decide how these services factor into the evaluation.
Process evaluation also plays a role in how much the funder will provide to the organization. Sometimes, the funder only wants to fund certain activities in an organization. Therefore, the funder must evaluate specific processes and consider their expenditures to determine how much should go to the organization. Also, funders may want to evaluate processes to ensure that the funder is not ripped off, such as when the organization overestimates the costs of equipment or other expenses. Oftentimes, the organization must justify its actions to the funder.
Sometimes, organizations perform their own evaluations when seeking out grants from private funders. They must perform research to demonstrate that there is a need for a particular service and they must provide research demonstrating that similar programs have worked in the past. They must also outline program processes to demonstrate how the program can work. Such procedures are standard parts of grant writing.