Organizational Self-Assessments

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Self-assessments are often the first step in an organization’s journey towards effective outcomes. The goal of assessments is to collect data that can help the nonprofit evaluate whether or not it is making progress towards various goals, including whether the nonprofit can demonstrate that it is making progress advancing its mission. 

Organizations that are serious about measuring their progress and evaluating their outcomes typically engage in a self-assessment process, whether organization-wide, or focused on certain aspects of their programs or activities. For example, board members can conduct self-assessments to determine how engaged the board is, or to identfiy knowledge or experience gaps. Self-assessments are typcially used in conjunction with annual/regular performance evaluations. But the type of organizational assessment we are focusing on here is a process that a nonprofit may use to evaluate the nonprofit’s progress towards its goals. Assessments are common throughout the nonprofit sector. Read about assessing impact and evaluating progress.

Practice Points

  • Diverse perspectives can affect the ways in which individuals react to self-assessments. As a preliminary step it might be useful to discuss how diverse perspectives may impact the process, so that goals of inclusiveness are taken into consideration both when designing the assessment and interpreting the results.
  • Self-assessments can help boards and staff more quickly identify areas in which your organization can improve its effectiveness to serve its mission. While individual staff or board members may feel uncomfortable with self-assessments, reinforcing how assessments are directly tied to advancing the mission may help them become more comfortable participating in self-assessments
  • If your nonprofit receives funding from a private foundation(s), don't be shy about asking whether the grantmaker recommends a particular self-assessment tool or evaluation process. Some grant reports have specific questions for the grantee to address that ask about the process the organization uses to neasure its outcomes or progress.



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