Evaluation

A Sector Driven Evaluation Strategy

A Sector Driven Evaluation Strategy

Sometimes evaluation can be a dirty word — it can feel like something imposed, like another layer of reporting. The good news? It doesn’t have to be that way. Breakthroughs can happen when we’re able to frame an old problem in a new way and evaluation is definitely an old problem that needs some reframing!

The use of evidence can help make our work better and nonprofits need to engage many stakeholders, including funders, to create a plan for evaluation that meets everyone’s needs. Too often, however, nonprofits end up doing evaluation in reactive mode, spending time answering questions that have been chosen by others.

What if, together, we can shift our points of view and notice new things about evaluation? How can it help us get our work done and help our communities? How can we discard what’s not working and strengthen (or create) what can work?

There are a number of initiatives in Ontario to help individual nonprofits get better at the technical aspects of evaluation through workshops, handbooks, and coaching. This is important work. ONN’s focus is complementary, but different.

Our aim for a sector driven evaluation strategy is to create a more enabling ecosystem for evaluation in the nonprofit sector. In other words, we want to change the system so that it addresses evaluation questions that really matter. We want a system that makes it easier, more rewarding, and less stressful for nonprofits and their partners to do meaningful evaluation work.

Subscribe to the Evidence Network News Flash


Our Resources

Evaluation Literature Review

In this report, we delve into some of the systemic issues of evaluation in the nonprofit sector. It is intended to help us begin to unpack this big, complex, and sometimes emotional evaluation discussion.

Read the Blog Post
Read the Executive summary
Read the full report


Matching Evaluation Approaches to Expectations

In Ontario’s nonprofit sector, evaluation is a word that gets used a lot. Different kinds of data gathering approaches with different purposes sometimes get lumped together under the general heading of evaluation. This can lead to miscommunication and unrealistic expectations. To try to clear things up a bit, we have created this resource.

Read the Blog Post


Vision & Principles for Evaluation in Ontario’s Nonprofit Sector

In this resource we offer you a vision and set of principles for evaluation. Our 2020 Vision for Nonprofit Evaluation articulates what a strong shared vision for useful evaluation can and should be. While our Principles to Help Us Get to Useful Evaluation will help to identify some practical basics for a nonprofit audience regarding how an evaluation process should unfold.

Read the Blog Post
View the Vision & Principles Document
View the Principles Graphic


6 Simple Tips For Communicating About Impact

This resource includes strategies designed to help you get into the habit of talking about your work in impact language.


Slide Deck

This resource contains a few of our favourite slides we’ve used in a number of presentations to nonprofits and funders on what we’re doing, why it’s important, and what leads to useful evaluation.


Our Podcasts

Episode 1 (2016.04.19)

In our first evaluation podcast, Andrew and Ben sit down with Chanel Grenaway from the Canadian Women’s Foundation (CWF). Tune in to hear the story of how evaluation is making a difference for the CWF and their grantees.


Our Blog Posts

We explore some of the key issues, challenges, and ways to move forward in our blog posts.

Read our latest blog: Our 2020 Vision for Nonprofit Evaluation: Let’s Be Bold! (2016.08.09)

We’ve got more evaluation goodness. Check out our previous blog posts below.


 Our Comic Series

We developed a comic series to explore key themes in our conversations with the sector about nonprofit evaluation.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Click below to view the comics at full size.

View Comic 3
View Comic 2
View Comic 1


Our Webinars

Missed a webinar? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Click below, to get caught up.

Rethinking Evaluation: Developing a Strategy for the Sector, By the Sector (2016.01.27)
In this webinar, we want to hear from you! We have a few ideas for how we can start to change the way evaluation in the nonprofit sector works and we want your feedback on what we might include in a strategy (e.g. a vision and set of principles for evaluation, a negotiation guide to use with funders and other stakeholders, ways we can promote an evaluation culture, and how we can use a network approach to better share and collaborate). More specifically, we want to know what you think needs to change at a systems level and how we can change it together.
2016.01.27 Rethinking Evaluation Webinar Slides
2016.01.27 Rethinking Evaluation Webinar Recording

Evaluations that Work: What the Nonprofit Sector Can Learn from ONN and Vibrant Communities (2016.06.22)
Evaluations “work” when they lead to insight and action. We all know that the process can be resource-intensive, so it is important for us to maximize the probability of getting it right! In this webinar, two leading learning institutes, the Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN) and Tamarack’s Vibrant Communities Canada, will unpack real-life stories from Cities Reducing Poverty members to identify cases where evaluation worked really well. Together we identify how they achieved exceptional success, and top takeaway points for the nonprofit sector.
2016.06.22 Webinar Recording & Resources


We can’t do it alone.

In order to achieve these goals, we’ll be reaching out to nonprofits across Ontario. We’ll be developing strategies that can help nonprofits make informed decisions about the most meaningful ways to use their limited evaluation resources, and shift the conversations with their key stakeholders to make evaluation an asset. We will test ideas about how to ensure that evaluation strengthens nonprofit work, benefits the communities we serve, helps us demonstrate accountability, and do it all without creating unnecessary administrative burdens. Together, we can do this!


Do you have strategies and resources to share?

Want to know more? Contact Ben Liadsky, Evaluation Program Associate at ben@theonn.ca.


A few helpful resources

Here are a few resources we’ve come across from around the web.

Arts focused:


Thank you to our fabulous Advisory Group!

This work is thanks to a Partnership Grant through the Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade (MCIIT).

Government of Ontario logo