By Rohit Mehta, President

We’re talking to a lot of clients about evaluative thinking lately, as one of the major upcoming grants requires evidence-based models which have been developed through evaluation and data collection. Let’s explore what this means, and how you can develop this in your own work.

An evidence-based model refers to an approach which is based on actual research. For non-profits, this means leaning on published research, and findings available from government-funded agencies and educational institutions to support your model. By model, we mean the structure which you use to change the world – perhaps an after-school program, or a workshop series, or one-on-one mentorship.

When asked to provide evidence that your model has proven effective, in order to apply to expand or replicate your programs, consider the following:

  1. What was the change that you sought out when you started this work?
  2. How did you measure (or keep track of) your progress towards that change?
  3. Do you have proof (data – such as survey results, or testimonials – quotes from your participants) that your model has been a success?
  4. Have your results be successful enough that they could be shared broadly with other communities?

We’ve been discussing this topic a lot lately with our current and prospective clients. We’re finding that many groups have been making a real impact in their communities, and often tracking that impact. However, what they have tracked is attendance, number of participants per workshop, participants’ satisfaction rating, or whether they would attend again.

We challenge all impact organizations to go deeper. Ask yourselves, how are we making a real impact on mental health improvement, reducing racism, increased environmental awareness, greater access to the arts (or insert your own cause).

If you struggle with evaluative thinking, we encourage you to check out this free evaluation e-learning course from the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Also, stay tuned for an upcoming workshop in Mississauga, planned for January 2020! Click here for details on the upcoming evaluation workshop.