Evaluation methods are the criteria for evaluating the success of a program or project.

Evaluation methods allow the donor a way to know if you’ve achieved your goals and objectives. 

Program vs Project: How they are different and why it matters

An evaluation plan tells many things…
  • How to know the criteria used to evaluate success – (tests, surveys, etc.)
  • Methods used to collect evaluation information
  • Methods used to analyze the evaluation information
  • When to conduct the evaluations (milestones, quarterly, annually)
  • Describes who is going to evaluate (qualifications, credentials)

Evaluation is about being open to continuing feedback and adjusting your program(s) accordingly. Here’s a tip for those of you creating program budgets for grants: Be “Generally Specific”

The three main types of evaluation methods are goal-based, process-based and outcomes-based. Goal-based evaluations measure if objectives have been achieved (We highly recommend S.M.A.R.T. Goals). Process-based evaluations analyze strengths and weaknesses. Outcomes-based evaluations examine broader impacts and often investigate what greater good was served as a result of the program or project.

Some things to consider when selecting an evaluation method are:

  • What information is needed to make decisions?
  • What information can feasibly be collected and analyzed?
  • How accurate will the information be?
  • Will the information be credible to top donors or management?

Potential Evaluation Methods:


Pre and Post Test
Test Against Control Groups


Follow-On Tracking

Data Collection

Feedback forms

Financial Reports

Cost to budget
Cost per unit of service
On time on budget


Drop in recidivism
Job placement
Permits, inspections, certifications

Subjective (Qualitative)


This article provides insights into evaluating and creating evaluation methods. It is designed to help you explore the options you have when creating your program and project designs.  Other things to consider include:

  1. What is the primary purpose of the program? (Education, Outreach, Intervention, Prevention, Career Readiness, Economic Development, etc.)
  2. Is there a need for this program? Describe the need using statistics/community reports
  3. Who is the target population?
  4. How will the program design help meet the community need?
  5. What will be frequency of program? (contact hours per participant)
  6. Who will organize and implement the program? ( Staff/volunteer capacity)
  7. How will target population be invited/registered/retained?
  8. Will there be a cost associated with the program?
  9. Will program model be evidence based?
  10. What are the goals/objectives of the program?
  11. What policies/procedures will need to be implemented to reduce risks?
  12. Who will track program data and report to stakeholders/donors? (staff, tools)
  13. What evaluation measures will be used to measure program success?
  14. How will the organization share program impact with the greater community?
  15. What are the true costs associated with program development, implementation, and reporting? – Personnel Costs (Salaries, Fringe such as FICA, healthcare, etc), Curriculum, Program Materials, Marketing Materials, Travel/Transportation (of staff and participants), Staff development/certifications,Equipment, Space, Contract Services, Insurances/Liability, Other
  16. What resources are critical for both the short-term and long-term success of the program? – – Financial (program fees, grants, donors, etc), Program materials and/or services, Community Partnerships/Collaboration
  17. How will the organization sustain this program?
  18. What is your organization’s current/long-term capacity? – – Diversified funding streams, Financial systems/procedures
  19. Does the Board of Directors agree there is a need for the program and commit to supporting it?

How to Write Quality Goals and Objectives

Questions to Ask When Designing a Nonprofit Program

We are always ready to help if you would like to schedule a Consultation Session or if you would like to learn more about our solutions specific to Grant Writing and Research or Program Design.

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