Using program evaluation as a marketing tool, necessary non-profit practice.

This is a 5th week.  At SCVRJP I’ve structured our programs to be monthly or every other month.  The recipe goes like this:  3rd Wednesday Victim Impact Panel, 1st Wednesday’s Safe Teen Driving Circles, 2nd Tuesday Underage Consumption Panels, 3rd Monday’s board meeting.  You get the idea.

I don’t have any 5th week sessions.  Therefore it’s like a whole extra week in the month!  How many people want an hour in a day!  I got a whole week!  On top of that, things are great at SCVRJP, I have two staff and an intern right now, everyone is quickly learning and taking on tasks.  This freed me up to focus on a project.  The project: our evaluation forms.

Every session we do has an  evaluation form.  I use the results to explain how we are doing.  Usually for grants, but these results are also used in marketing SCVRJP.  For example, a powerpoint:   Quotes from our community providing the reactions of people involved in our services.

I love the work of Clay Shirky,  I heard him say that you only need 1 question for marketing:  would you recommend this to others?  That made sense to me!  So I updated all 2010 evaluation forms, all 7 of them.  Now in addition to program related measurement, each survey has 2 consistent questions.

1.) Overall, how would you rate this program?


2.)Would you recommend this program to others?

I can’t wait to keep track on that, not just for each program, but for our services overall.   This is a marketing tool.

At the recent MN Council of Nonprofits Tech Conference, I learned a TON about marketing and fundraising.  The echo in my head, from the keynote presentation, I heard:  the economy is in a recession, our mission’s are not.

As non-profits we have to position ourselves as necessary and relevant.  The first quarter has passed, and I’ve just got my survey’s updated.  I thought I was too busy (well I was), I now realize the power I have harnessed by taking time to focus on my data.

In addition to using the aggregate data from the surveys, I plan to do volunteer spotlights in our monthly e-newsletter, (to sign up, email your email to, subject line: NEWSLETTER).  Guess what my common question in the volunteer spotlight?  Would you recommend this program to others?  Why?

I also learned at the #MNnptech  (facebook link) conference that individual stories will do better to promote your program.  I am scooping up stories right and left now, preparing for a website update.

If you are in a non-profit, your work at evaluation and marketing never end.  In restorative justice all relationships are bilateral, things go both ways.  You might as well, make your evaluation and marketing a two way street.

Props to MNnptech conference keynote Katya Andersen, she did a great job!